What is Confined Space?

June 10, 2007

Confined space is a term from laborsafety regulations that refers to an area whose cramped conditions make it dangerous. A confined space is any space: 1) that has limited or restricted means of entry or exit; 2) is large enough for a person to enter to perform tasks, and 3) is not designed or configured for continuous occupancy. [1] Confined spaces present special hazards to workers, including risks of toxic gas accumulation, fires, falls, flooding, and entrapment. A utility tunnel, the inside of a boiler (only accessible when the boiler is off), the inside of a fluid storage tank, and a small underground electrical vault could all be classified as confined spaces. Special labor regulations typically apply to confined spaces — employees are typically required to undergo special registration procedures to enter one, and are often required to wear special safety gear (respirators, helmets, etc.) depending on the hazards within. In the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration makes regulations with respect to confined spaces.

A subset of confined spaces are permit required confined spaces which are particularly hazardous due to one or more of the following:

  1. Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  2. Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing the entrant
  3. Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section
  4. Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.

From: WikiPedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confined_space

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