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What You Need to Know About Confined Spaces


Written by Malcolm Ritchie, BS, QSSP, HMTRI and Authorized OSHA Outreach Instructor 

Confined Space can be one of the most dangerous hazards that we can encounter. There are many confined spaces in the world as well as a multitude of dangers that can be encountered in a confined space.  You may have confined space around your home like a large sewer drain in the curb where little Johnny may accidentally kick a ball and be small enough to get into the drain to retrieve his ball. You may have property with a cave; there may be someone that has a grain bin on his property. Any confined space can be dangerous. However, when we talk about confined spaces at the workplace, OSHA takes over and has a particular standard addressing a dangerous space (29 CFR 1910.146).

First, a qualified person must assess a space to determine if it is Permit Required or Non-Permit Required.  A Non-Permit space has no hazard nor any potential to have a hazard. However, a Permit Required Confined Space has some type of hazard or does have the potential to have hazards.

For Permit Required Confined Spaces, all involved workers must be trained on the space.
There must be:

  • a written procedure
  • a permit process
  • trained entrants
  • trained attendants
  • an entry plan which includes testing the air/atmosphere of the space before entering and putting down the results on the permit

Before entry, all PPE, tools and anything else needed for the work must be ready and the permit must be posted by the entry point. Most important is the rescue plan. There must be a rescue plan ready and available in the event the entrant gets in trouble. The attendant never leaves the space and calls for rescue if needed.  And remember, the atmosphere must be continually monitored at all times. Ventilation may be needed into the space.

This is just a summary of information. For full information on YOUR permit required for confined space, you must read your Company’s written Confined Space Procedures and obey all requirements in the procedure for each entry.

Are you OSHA ready when it comes to Confined Space? Call Malcolm today at 256.627.0804 to schedule your Confined Space Training or other General Safety Program.