3 Characteristics of a Confined Space (General Industry)

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Knowing how to work safely in and around confined spaces, and knowing how to comply with the OSHA regulations for confined spaces, begins with knowing what a confined space is.

Read below to learn the three simple criteria for a confined space.

What Is a Confined Space In General Industry?

OSHA’s 1910.146 is the regulation that governs confined spaces in general industry. Very conveniently, 1910.146 includes a definition of “confined space” right in the Section 2, Definitions section of the standard.

According to the OSHA reg, a defined space has the following three characteristics:

  1. Large enough and configured so an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work
  2. Limited or restricted means for entry and exit
  3. Not designed for continuous employee occupancy

That’s it. If a space has all three of those characteristics, then the general industry 1910.146 regulation defines it as a confined space.

Of course, few things in life are truly that simple. For example, what does “not designed for continuous employee occupancy” really mean? (Hint: if the room has ventilation and lighting, it’s probably considered designed for continuous employee occupancy.) So you may also want to take a little time reviewing these OSHA Letters of Interpretation re: the General Industry Confined Space Standard.

The short video below is taken from our Confined Space Entry Awareness online training video and it explains the characteristics of a confined space you just learned about.

Now that you know what a confined space is, the next step is to know what a permit-required confined space is. We’ll cover that in our next look at confined spaces, so stay tuned.

Conclusion: 3 Requirements for a Confined Spaced in General Industry

Hope you enjoyed this look at the general industry requirements for a confined space. Let us know if you’ve got more questions, plus continue reading our other confined-spaced related articles, like the ones listed and linked below:

In the meantime, feel free to download our FREE GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE SAFETY TRAINING.


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Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

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