A ‘confined or enclosed space’ means any space having a limited means of access and egress, which is subject to the accumulation of toxic or flammable contaminants, has an oxygen deficient atmosphere, or could possibly cause suffocation due to entry of liquids, granules, etc. or harm from corrosives, acids, etc.
Confined or enclosed spaces include but are not limited to storage tanks, process vessels, bins, boilers, ventilation or exhaust ducts, sewers, underground utility vaults, tunnels, pipelines, and open top spaces more than 4 feet in depth such as pits, tubs, vaults, and vessels.
Caution is a must! Only fools will rush in and this means rescuers as well. If in doubt, check with your supervisor. Always be sure to follow the host employer’s requirements. New OSHA rules require that the employer follow specific procedures before anyone enters a confined space.
The responsible host contractor or employer and your supervisor, using standard tests, must determine if ventilation or atmospheric conditions within the space are hazardous and whether any special safety equipment is required such as protective clothing, respiratory equipment, etc. Once this has been done make sure that everyone going into the confined space is familiar with exactly what work is to be done. Everyone involved must know what to do should an emergency take place. In other words, be prepared for the unexpected! In addition. a competent attendant; trained in rescue procedures, C.P.R., and first aid must remain outside and stay in constant contact with those inside.
If the owner’s policies and procedures concur with OSHA regulations, and we, in turn, follow these requirements, confined space work should be done accident-free. Remember, confined spaces are dangerous. Look out for yourself as well as your co-workers. Before you jump in, check it out!
ALWAYS CHECK THE AIR INSIDE A VESSEL BEFORE YOU ENTER ONCE YOU’RE INSIDE IT’S TOO LATE! CHECK FOR OXYGEN CONTENT, FLAMMABILITY OR AN EXPLOSIVE ATMOSPHERE.