Health, Safety, Security and Environment

E-Books: Permit-Required Confined Spaces

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Permit Required Confined Spaces
Permit-Required Confined Spaces Book’s cover

Permit-Required Confined Spaces is an informational booklet provides a general overview of a particular topic related to OSHA standards. It does not alter or determine compliance responsibilities in OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 Because interpretations and enforcement policy may change over time, you should consult the current OSHA administrative
interpretations and decisions by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and the courts for additional guidance on OSHA compliance requirements.

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered to be
“confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter into, work in, or exit from them. In many instances, employees who work in confined spaces also face an increased risk of exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment, and hazardous atmospheric conditions. Confinement itself may pose entrapment hazards and
working in confined spaces may keep employees closer to hazards such as machinery components than they would be otherwise. For example, confinement, limited access, and restricted airflow can result in hazardous conditions that would not normally arise in an open workplace.

Also Read: Photo of the day: Safety Equipment for Confined Spaces

Permit Required Confined Spaces

The terms “permit-required confined space” and “permit space” refer to spaces that meet OSHA’s definition of a “confined space” and contain health or safety hazards.

For this reason, OSHA requires workers to have a permit to enter these spaces. Throughout this publication, the term “permit space” will be used to describe a “permit-required confined space.”

Also Read: Working safely around confined spaces

By definition, a confined space:

  • Is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work;
  • Is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee; and
  • Has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit.

These spaces may include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits, diked areas, vessels, silos, and other similar areas.

By definition, a permit-required confined space has one or more of these characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
  • Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space; 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; and/or
  • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.


The content of the Permit-Required Confined Spaces

  • Introduction…3
  • Definitions…3
  • OSHA’s Confined Space Standard…4
  • Alternative to a full permit entry…4
  • Written Programs…6
  • Controlling Hazards…7
  • Equipment for safe entry…7
  • Detection of hazardous conditions…7
  • Informing Contract Employees…8
  • Entry Permits…8
  • Canceled entry permits…9
  • Worker Training…9
  • Assigned Duties…10
  • Authorized entrant..10
  • Attendant…10
  • Entry supervisor…11
  • Emergencies…12
  • Rescue service personnel…12
  • Harnesses and retrieval lines…12
  • MSDS…12
  • OSHA Assistance…13
  • Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines…13
  • State Programs…14
  • Consultation Services…14
  • Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP)…15
  • Strategic Partnership Program…15
  • Alliance Programs…15
  • OSHA training and Education…16
  • Information Available Electronically…17
  • OSHA Publications…17
  • Contacting OSHA…18
  • OSHA Regional Offices…19

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E-Books: Permit-Required Confined Spaces

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