Confined Spaces in the Workplace Pose Often Overlooked Hazards

Many workplaces contain “confined spaces” that, while not necessarily designed to accommodate people, are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space typically has limited or restricted openings for entry or exit and is not intended for continuous worker occupancy. Confined spaces include tanks, storage bins, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, ductwork and pipelines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that:

  • May contain a hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere;
  • May contain a material which can engulf a worker;
  • May contain walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate a worker;
  • May contain other serious physical hazards, such as unguarded machines or exposed live wires.

Many employers are not fully aware of their responsibilities and requirements under OSHA’s general industry permit-required confined space rules regarding workers who are exposed to the hazards of confined spaces. In order to maintain full compliance with OSHA regulations, employers must identify all potential hazards, develop written safety and rescue procedures, and provide training and protective equipment to employees to eliminate or greatly reduce the risks associated with working in confined spaces.

The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District is offering a series of courses focusing on the hazards associated with confined spaces in the workplace. The courses are designed not only to help employers and workers recognize and prevent confined space hazards but also to provide an overview of OSHA’s Permit-Required Confined Space Standard for general industry employers.

Upcoming permit-required confined space courses include:

Permit Required Confined Space Standard – OSHA 7300

An introduction to the requirements of OSHA’s Permit-Required Confined Space Standard, designed for small employers or a designated representative (line supervisor or manager) with the responsibility to develop a permit space program.

Permit Required Confined Space Entry – OSHA 2264

How to recognize, evaluate, prevent and abate safety and health hazards associated with confined space entry. Topics include recognition of confined space hazards, instrumentation to evaluate atmospheric hazards, ventilation techniques and practical hands-on experience with permit entry classification and program evaluation.

Confined Space Rescue Operations (40-Hour) – OTC 304

This course consists primarily of hands-on field training in how to conduct a variety of rescues in permit-required confined spaces, including how to develop and update pre-plans, conduct practice rescues, inspect and maintain equipment and coordinate with other emergency responders.

Employers who recognize potential confined space hazards, develop applicable safety procedures and provide appropriate training, equipment and supervision will not only ensure their compliance with OSHA requirements but, more importantly, help eliminate or greatly reduce the risks associated with working in confined spaces.

About the OSHA Training Center

The OSHA Training Center at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District offers high quality Occupational Safety & Health Administration standards-based training for construction, maritime and general industry at its Center in Dublin, California, as well as locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam. Programs offered include OSHA safety standards, Outreach Trainer courses, Cal/OSHA standards curriculum, environmental courses and customized onsite safety training. For more information and a complete course schedule, visit the OSHA Training Center website or call (866) 936-OSHA (6742).

Comments

  1. BonobosMarcos says:

    It would seem there are quite a bit of regulations to work in small confined space. My uncle is a certified welder and has to often work in confined spaces. When he tells us about these experiences he talks about how important constant airflow is through the space since welding creates deadly gasses.

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