TJD Industrial Services

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Confined Space and Confined Space Permit Required

Posted: 06/30/15

In most factories and other industrial workplaces, the term “confined space” or “permit required confined space” pops up quite often; but what exactly qualifies as a confined space? It takes more than just a small space; if you think about it, your workplace restroom could be considered a confined space with multiple occupants in a small room with only one door, so it must take more to fit the definition. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has defined a confined space as spaces where workers are able to perform certain jobs, but they are not designed for continuous occupancy with limited or restricted means of entry and exit. Examples of these spaces include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housing, ductwork, pipelines, and more.

While a permit required confined space naturally fits all of the parameters of a confined space, extra precautions need to be taken due to the more hazardous environment. A permit required confined space can be different in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous or toxic atmosphere, OR
  2. Contains a material with the potential to entrap an entrant (liquids or solids), OR
  3. Has walls that converge inward/floors that slope and taper which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant, OR
  4. Contains materials that could be serious physical hazards like unguarded machinery or exposed live wires

When working in a permit required confined space, extra precautions need to be taken. Do not enter a permit required confined space without the proper training and a permit. Have a full understanding of the employer’s procedures before entering, and test the oxygen content, monitoring levels of any toxins before and during labor inside the confined space. Use fall protection, ventilation, and communication equipment, being sure to maintain contact with the trained attendant at all times.


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