Safety Services Company
November 26th 2019
Working in a confined space can be extremely dangerous. Confined spaces pose serious risks such as entrapment, exposure to noxious fumes, physical injury, and suffocation due to lack of airflow. Because of these very real scenarios, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set very strict guidelines for employers and employees regarding working in a confined space. Confined space training is necessary in order to ensure the safety of workers.
By OSHA’s standards, not all work spaces without windows or ventilation are considered a confined space. Officially, an area is considered “confined” if it fits all of the following:
Furthermore, a confined space isn’t always a permit-required space. A confined space is considered a permit-required space if it has the following attributes:
Hazards can come in many forms, and safety guidelines are in place because workers can be seriously injured or killed in confined spaces. These hazards can include:
In order to ensure the safety of employees, OSHA requires employers to:
Permit-required spaces must be evaluated and tested prior to authorizing employee access. Entry permits must be signed off by the entry supervisor and a copy must be posted on all entrances.
These entry permits must include the following details:
Per OSHA, an entry attendant, an authorized entrant, and an entry supervisor all have responsibilities to ensure safety:
Entry supervisors are responsible for granting or canceling entry permits. They are also required to know all the hazards and emergency procedures that come with working in a confined space. Additionally, entry supervisors must regularly check if means for rescue is available and entry operations remain consistent for every use.
The main purpose of an entry attendant is to keep watch while an employee is using a confined space. Entry attendants must remain outside and in communication with the workers in the area. They must be knowledgeable in emergency procedures, and in emergencies are the first line of communication between the employees and responders.
Only authorized workers are granted access to a permit-required space. These employees are required to be familiar with emergency procedures and how to safely manage the hazards present. Authorized entrants must also wear adequate protective gear at all times, and must notify the attendant if a potentially dangerous situation arises.
According to OSHA, employees have three lines of defense should an emergency occur:
Exposure to hazardous materials is a very real risk when it comes to permit-required spaces. These areas are required to have a copy of all relevant Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) in order to help medical responders safely treat the injured.
Employees who enter permit-required spaces must have harness lines strapped onto their chest or their wrists. These lines must be connected to a retrieval line outside of the area.
Responders must be capable of arriving to the emergency’s location in a timely manner. They must also have the necessary equipment to perform the rescue. Other than first aid and CPR training, responders must also be familiar with the rescue procedures required for the site’s specific confined space emergencies.
Remember, confined spaces can cause serious injury or even death, so policies and procedures must be established to prevent such incidents. As a business owner, it can be very daunting to properly adhere to OSHA’s complex list of guidelines.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all alone. Safety Services Company is here to help. To learn how we can solve your company’s confined space training and compliance needs, check out our products and services here or call us at (866) 329-5407 today. Remember, your one inquiry can save lives.