Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs.
A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.
OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:
- Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
- Contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant;
- Has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or
- Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
What must I look for in a confined space risk assessment?
When carrying out a risk assessment it is important to ensure that all risks associated with the hazards above are evaluated and controlled. When carrying out a risk assessment the following questions should be asked:
- What could be inside the space that would pose a risk?
– Oxygen Deficiency?
– Previous Contents?
– Oxygen Enrichment?
– Structure and Layout?
- What will be created due to the work carried out in the space?
– Sources of Ignition?
– Flammable Substances?
- What‘s outside the space that might pose a risk during the proposed work?
– Inadequate Isolation?
– Inadvertent Operation Of Plant?
– Nearby Work Activities?