What Are The Three Types of OSHA Confined Spaces?

A confined space is one that has few entry and exit points and is unsuitable for human habitation.

The inside of a storage tank, for example, is periodically penetrated by maintenance personnel but is not meant for human habitation.

Harmful dust or fumes, asphyxiation, submersion in liquids or free-flowing granular materials (for example, grain bins), electrocution, or entrapment are all common hazards in confined spaces

Permit restricted space, general industrial, and construction are the three OSHA confined space definitions.

You must obey the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) guidelines on construction confined spaces and general industry confined spaces if you are undertaking construction work, such as building a new structure or updating an old one.

Let’s look at the three different categories of OSHA confined spaces and how the revised regulations affect them.

Confined Space in Construction 

On the OSHA website, confined or enclosed areas are defined as “any location with a restricted means of escape, that is vulnerable to the buildup of poisonous or combustible pollutants, or that has an oxygen-deficient environment.”

A section with instances of constrained or enclosed environments is also included. Among them include, but are not limited to:

  •         Storage tanks
  •         Process vessels
  •         Bins
  •       Boilers
  •         Ventilation or exhaust pipes
  •         Sewers
  •         Underground utility vaults

Open-top areas with a depth of more than 4 feet are also on the list. Pits, tubs, vaults, and vessels are examples.

Standards for construction

When OSHA concluded that required training wasn’t enough in 2015, they created five important distinctions from the construction rule, as well as many instances where OSHA clarified existing standards. The five new criteria include more specific provisions, such as:

  1.       When there are many employers on the Jobsite, operations must be coordinated.
  2.       A generator running near the entrance to a restricted room, for example, might cause a buildup of carbon monoxide within the space.
  3.       Having a competent individual assess the Jobsite and detect limited places, such as confined spaces.
  4.       Whenever possible, need constant atmospheric monitoring.
  5.       Ensuring that engulfment threats are constantly monitored.

Several terminologies related to the construction regulation, such as “entry employer,” were also added to OSHA’s definitions. This phrase refers to the person who conducts employees into a facility. They also added the term “entry rescue” to highlight the many forms of rescues that employers might utilize.

Confined Space in General Industry 

Image by Stephen Case from Pixabay

A confined area under General Industry regulations, according to OSHA regulators, is a place that:

  1.       Is large enough and structured such that an employee may enter and do the assigned task.
  2.       A place with limited or restricted access or exit points, such as utility vaults and pits.
  3.       It was not built to accommodate continuous employee occupation.

Standards for General Industry

The following requirements were added to the General Industry rules by OSHA:

  1.       Employers that guide workers into a restricted location without a proper permit system must remove any dangers or apply isolation procedures like lockout/tag out.
  2.       Employers who rely on local emergency services in the event of an accident must be given early notification IF emergency services are unable to arrive for an extended length of time (like during another emergency or training)
  3.       Requiring companies to provide training in the worker’s native language and terminology.

Anyone entering a restricted place must go through confined space training and must maintain visibly phone, or two-way radio communication with a trained attendant at all times.

Permit Confined Space

Spaces that fit OSHA’s definition of a “confined space” and contain health or safety concerns are referred to as “permit-required confined space” or “permit space.”

As a result, OSHA requires workers to get a permit before entering certain areas. A limited location that requires a permit includes one or more of the following characteristics:

  •         Has the potential to contain or contain a dangerous atmosphere.
  •         It features an internal structure that might trap or asphyxiate an entrant, such as internally converging walls or a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section
  •         It has any other recognized major safety or health dangers.

Only if employees operate in a confined space must employers take precautions to safeguard them. They must also take appropriate measures to prevent personnel under their control from entering the space unless they are allowed to do so.

We hope that this article has given you additional knowledge and the types and categories of OSHA confined spaces. Follow the above-mentioned regulation and standards as it will help you understand the rules better.

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