If you work in a high-risk industry, you may come across confined spaces at your job. A confined space is any space that is not designed for continuous human occupancy and has limited or restricted access points. Examples of confined spaces include tanks, sewers, and pipelines. Confined spaces can be dangerous, as they may contain hazardous atmospheres, chemicals, or machinery. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has established specific regulations for working in confined spaces to protect workers from these hazards.
Here's what you need to know about confined spaces to ensure your safety while on the job:
OSHA's confined space standards provide specific guidelines to ensure that workers are safe when working in confined spaces. Depending on the industry, OSHA has established three different standards for confined spaces, each with its own requirements.
The general industry standard, §1910.146, is the most common and applies to most workplaces. It requires employers to evaluate any area in the workplace that meets the definition of a confined space and to determine if a permit is required before worker entry. If a permit is required, the employer must inform employees of the existence and danger of the confined space, implement necessary safety controls to mitigate hazards, and ensure that employees who will enter the confined space receive sufficient training to comply with industry standards and to understand the hazards present.
The maritime industry has a separate standard, §1915 Subpart B, which takes into account the complexity of confined spaces on ships and the presence of hazardous cargo. It requires employers to implement safety controls to mitigate hazards, provide personal protective equipment, and ensure that employees who will enter the confined space receive sufficient training to comply with industry standards and to understand the hazards present.
Despite the differences among the three standards, they all share similar goals and requirements. The primary goal is to ensure that workers are safe when working in confined spaces. The requirements include evaluating the space for hazards, obtaining a permit if required, informing employees of the danger of the confined space, implementing safety controls to mitigate hazards, and providing sufficient training to employees who will enter the confined space.
OSHA's confined space standards require employers to take several specific actions to ensure the safety of workers when working in confined spaces. The following are the key requirements of the OSHA confined space standard:
One of the most important things for employers to understand is what makes a confined space permit-required. When workers enter a confined space that contains hazards that can cause death or serious harm, they must take extra precautions to ensure their safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to obtain a permit before workers can enter permit-required confined spaces to ensure that necessary safety measures are in place. Permit-required confined spaces include any confined space that meets one or more of the following criteria:
Examples of permit-required confined spaces include storage vessels designed to hold liquids, gases, or free-flowing solids, excavations or trenches that can collapse or flood with little notice, pipes, ducts, flues, or conduits big enough to enter, manholes, access shafts, and wells, cesspools and holding pits, and inspection and maintenance pits for heavy machinery.
On the other hand, non-permit confined spaces do not contain hazards that can cause death or serious harm. Examples of non-permit confined spaces include ventilated tunnels, drop ceilings, equipment closets, and machinery cabinets. Even though non-permit confined spaces do not require special precautions, employers must still assess the potential for hazards in the space with the current use and configuration and provide sufficient training to workers who will enter the space.
A confined space entry permit is a document that ensures that all necessary safety measures are taken to protect workers who enter a confined space. The supervisor who authorizes entry into the confined space must sign the entry permit. However, the permit must also contain 14 pieces of required information to ensure that all potential hazards are assessed and that the necessary safety measures are in place.
The required information includes the confined spaces to be entered, the purpose of entry, the date and authorized duration of the permit, the authorized entrants, the names of attendants, and the authorizing supervisor's name and signature. The permit should also outline the hazards of the space being entered, including any initial or periodic tests performed and the results of those tests.
The permit must describe the measures used to isolate the permit space and eliminate or control hazards before entry. It must also identify acceptable entry conditions, such as the atmosphere inside the confined space, and communication procedures that will be used to maintain contact during entry. The permit should also list any equipment that will be used in the confined space, including PPE, testing or communication equipment, and alarm systems.
The entry permit must also identify rescue and emergency services that can be called on and how to do so. This ensures that the necessary emergency response is in place if something goes wrong while working in the confined space. Finally, any other information related to ensuring employee safety and any additional permits for work within the permit space should also be included in the permit.
The requirement for a confined space permit ensures that the team has planned things out and considered all safety requirements before entry into the confined space. Properly trained personnel must complete the necessary permit information, and supervisors must carefully review the information to ensure that all hazards are identified and addressed. In summary, the permit process is an essential aspect of safe confined space entry and provides a critical tool for protecting workers who enter these spaces.
Working in confined spaces can be risky, but with the right precautions, you can ensure your safety on the job. As a specialized business in High Risk Safety Education, Hazardous Materials Institute (HMI) provides a range of training services, including Confined Space Rescue Tech, Hazmat Awareness for first responders, CPR and first aid training, and other classes. HMI can provide the necessary training to ensure that you and your team are fully prepared to work safely in confined spaces.
To learn more about our services or to get in touch with us, please call us at (916) 203-9508 or email us at [email protected]. Stay safe and stay prepared!
An email will be sent to Rich Harlan the owner.