At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- Define "confined space"
- Differentiate between Non-Permit and Permit-required Confined Spaces
- Identify specific hazards that exist within confined spaces
- Describe the job roles and responsibilities involved in confined space entry
- Identify steps that should be followed to safely manage and eliminate hazards in a Permit-required Confined Space
The following key questions are answered in this module:
What is a confined space?
A hazardous confined space is defined as a work area which has all of the following characteristics: sufficient space for a person to fit within and perform work, limited means of entry and exit, and a design that was not intended for continuous worker occupancy.
What are examples of confined spaces?
Some spaces are clearly "confined," such as storage tanks, digesters, reactors, or large process pipes which can be opened for access during a shutdown. Confined spaces may also include common areas such as pipe trenches, pits, or rooms where normal exits may be blocked by construction work.
What are the hazards of working in a confined space?
Working in a confined space can represent a "triple threat" of hazards to employees. First, workers run the risk of exposure to a range of hazardous atmospheres when entering a confined space. Second, the space can present physical dangers due to cramped working space, proximity to moving equipment, poor walking surfaces, and the possibility of engulfment. Finally, the nature of confined spaces makes rescue of someone needing assistance within the space much more difficult.
What is a permit-required confined space?
In addition to matching all the characteristics of a confined-space, a permit-requried confined space contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere, contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant, has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section, or contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
What types of hazards do confined spaces present?
Hazards associated with confined spaces include hazardous atmospheres, physical hazards, and entrance/exit hazads.
Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:
Hazards must be evaluated and atmospheric testing must be conducted prior to entry. If a hazardous atmosphere is detected, workers may not enter the confined space until all of the hazards have been eliminated. Evaluation and testing must be repeated after efforts have been made to remove the hazard to ensure the area is safe. A forced air ventilation system should be set up to maintain a healthy atmosphere and prevent the buildup of any toxic contaminants. Make sure that the air forced into the confined space comes from a clean and safe source. If the work being performed generates fumes or other atmospheric contaminants within the space, the rate of ventilation needs to be increased. If a hazardous atmosphere develops within the space during work, all entrants must exit the space immediately. Continue to test and monitor the air within the confined space as long as it is occupied.
Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – www.osha.gov
- OSHA Safety & Health Training Topics – http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/
- OSHA Training Institute – www.osha.gov/dte/oti/index.html
- OSHA Safety and Health Library – www.osha.gov/dte/library/
- OSHA Confined Space document - http://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy09/sh-18796-09/confinedspace.pdf
- The American Society of Safety Engineers – www.asse.org