OSHA confined space entry standards for general industry (1910.146) and construction (1926 Subpart AA) require privately-owned businesses, non-profit organizations, and affected governmental organizations to implement a comprehensive confined space entry program for their employees who are involved in confined space entry work. A key element of that program is providing confined space training for all affected workers involved in confined space work. This includes all confined space entrants, attendants, and entry supervisors at general industry and construction work sites with permit-required confined spaces, as well as the competent person at construction sites.
Have a highly qualified instructor conduct an on site confined space training class for your group of employees. The confined space training can be based on the OSHA 1910.146 general industry standards for entering permit-required confined spaces, or the newer OSHA 1926 Subpart AA confined spaces for construction standards. The class can also incorporate the differences, if any, that appear in the confined space entry standards issued by a state OSHA program. This service is available to all employers located across the United States and territories.
Also, trainees have the option to take one of our comprehensive online confined space training courses, available for the construction industry and for general industry. Course options include training for entrants and attendants, entry supervisors, and the competent person at construction sites. Basic “How to Identify Permit Spaces” courses for construction sites and general industry sites also available. Sign up one student, or use our free Learner Management System (LMS) to purchase multiple courses / assign to students / track their progress. Course immediately available upon registration. Students can train at their own pace, logging in and out at any time, even from different computers / devices. Print your personalized training certificate upon successful completion of your course.
ON-SITE CONFINED SPACE ENTRY TRAINING CLASS
- Training class conducted for a group at your location
- Class based on 1926 construction standards or 1910 general industry standards for confined space entry
- Training covers confined space entrants, attendants, entry supervisors, and the competent person
ONLINE CONFINED SPACE TRAINING COURSES
- Log in and out, train at your pace. Print your cert when done
- Courses based on either 1926 construction or 1910 general industry confined space entry standards
- Courses for entrants and attendants, entry supervisors and the competent person, business owners and managers
How to Identify Permit Required Confined Spaces
Want to learn how to determine if you even have a permit-required confined space at your work site? You can learn how to make that determination by taking one of the following “How to” courses online.
How to Identify Permit Required Confined Spaces at General Industry Work Sites
- Based on OSHA 1910.146 standards
- Instant access
- Train at your own pace
How to Identify Permit Required Confined Spaces at Construction Sites
- Based on OSHA 1926 Subpart AA standards
- Instant access
- Train at your own pace
Confined Space Entry – Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
What is a Confined Space?
OSHA defines a confined space as a space with the following characteristics:
- The space is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work. The operative term is “bodily enter.” That means the employee can fit entirely inside the space. If the space is not large enough or configured to where it can be bodily entered, it does not meet the definition of a confined space.
- The space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that the space only has one way in or out. According to OSHA definitions, limited or restricted means for entry or exit means “a condition that has a potential to impede an employee’s movement into or out of a confined space”. That definition goes on to explain that examples of a limited means of entry or exit include, but are not limited to, trip hazards, poor illumination, slippery floors, inclining surfaces, and ladders. OSHA also states that limited or restricted means for entry or exit exist where the occupant must crawl, climb, twist, be constrained in a narrow opening, follow a lengthy path, or otherwise exert unusual effort to enter or leave, or where the entrance may become sealed or secured against opening from inside.
- The space is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. While some spaces seem to meet the first two criteria of a confined space, they MAY HAVE been designed for an employee to enter and perform work; for example, a functioning submarine is not a confined space because it does not meet criteria #3. However, spaces such as most manholes and tanks are NOT designed for continuous worker occupancy.
Remember that ALL THREE of these criteria must be in place for the space to be considered a confined space. More detailed guidance on what is considered a confined space is available in our on site training classes and our online training courses.
Does OSHA Require a Permit to Enter Into All Types of Confined Spaces?
No; There are confined spaces that do not meet the OSHA definition of a permit space; these are referred to as non-permit spaces, and therefore are not regulated by OSHA’s permit-required confined space entry standards. Only confined spaces which meet the OSHA definition of a permit-required confined space must be entered under a permit entry program. You can learn how to determine if you have any confined spaces, and then determine if they are permit-required confined spaces or non-permit spaces, by taking one of our online “How To” courses available on this website.
So What Makes a Confined Space a Permit-Required Confined Space?
According to the OSHA definition, there are four characteristics that can make a confined space a Permit-required Confined Space. They are:
- The space contains an actual or potential hazardous atmosphere. This could include, but is not limited to, an oxygen-deficient atmosphere, an oxygen enriched atmosphere, a toxic atmosphere, unsafe levels of flammable gas present in the atmosphere, or airborne dust in quantities that an explosion could occur.
- The space contains a material with the potential to engulf the entrant. Examples include a space where the entrant could suddenly be surrounded or captured by liquid. Engulfment by liquid could occur in sanitary and storm sewers, as well as in any pipelines, utility vaults, or process tanks that could suddenly be filled with liquid. Engulfment can also occur in confined space containing a finely divided solid material, such as grain, that can be aspirated to cause death by filling or plugging the respiratory system, or that can exert enough force on the body to cause death by strangulation, constriction, or crushing. Confined spaces that contain potential engulfment hazards include, but are not limited to, grain elevators and storage bins, as well as other confined spaces that contain materials such as flour, sawdust, powdered cement, or finely pelletized materials.
- The space is configured to trap and asphyxiate the entrant. This would apply to confined spaces with inwardly converging walls or downward sloping floors that taper to a small cross section and could trap and asphyxiate the entrant, primarily by compressing their torso. Some examples of confined spaces where entrapment could occur include, but are not limited to, cyclones and similarly constructed chutes on some storage silos.
- The space contains some other recognized serious safety or health hazard. OSHA is on record as explaining that “serious” hazards mean hazards that could impair the ability of an entrant to exit the space without aid, with the key determination is the likelihood that death or serious harm will occur IF an accident or exposure occurs. Examples of other serious safety or health hazards include, but are not limited to, mechanical hazards. Unguarded fan blades inside a confined space are a serious safety hazard, as would be agitators and mixing blades. Similar hazards include moving gears, belts and pulleys, and chains and sprockets. Also covered would be equipment that could move and crush a person, such as an elevator car. Exposed live electrical equipment and un-insulated conductors inside of a confined space also present a serious safety hazard. A confined space with a high internal temperature, such as a furnace, oven, or boiler, could represent a serious safety hazard to an employee working inside. So would a confined space containing a steam line or related equipment that could burn or scald an employee who is working on it. And any confined space containing water or some other liquid deep enough for an employee to potentially drown is also a serious safety hazard. One more example of a serious safety hazard is the presence of corrosive materials inside a confined space which could cause injury to an employee entering the space. Biological or radiation hazards present in high levels inside a confined space could also be dangerous. Even the potential for venomous snakes and other dangerous animals or insects must be considered in some work environments, as they could represent a serious safety hazard to an entrant. One more potential safety hazard that OSHA discusses at length in the preamble to their confined space standard is a worker striking their head on a low-hanging object, such as a beam or piece of angle iron, and becoming disoriented, or even being rendered unconscious.
Remember, it only takes one of these characteristics to be present for the confined space to be classified as a Permit-required Confined Space.
How Do You Obtain a Permit From OSHA to Enter a Permit-required Confined Space?
OSHA does not issue permits to employers to enter confined spaces. A permit is essentially a checklist generated by the employer that lists the identity of the space to be entered, the hazards associated with that space, steps to be taken to eliminate or control the hazards, and emergency procedures for rescue and medical assistance if needed. The permit also lists all equipment to be used during entry, the names of entrants, attendants, and the identity and signature of the entry supervisor. Our on site and online confined space training courses provide you with a template written confined space entry program with permit that can be modified to fit your needs.
Does OSHA Require Only Those Employees Who Enter Into a Confined Space Be Trained?
No; all employees who are involved with entry into confined spaces regulated under the OSHA standards must be trained. That would include not only the entrants, but also anyone serving as an attendant, entry supervisor, and, where applicable, employees designated to operate gas detection equipment or who perform rescue and medical services.
Can A Person Acting as Entry Supervisor for Confined Space Entry Operations Also Perform The Duties of an Entrant or Attendant, or Are They Restricted to Acting Only as Entry Supervisor?
According to the footnote appearing with the OSHA definition of an entry supervisor, an entry supervisor overseeing entry into a permit space can also serve as an attendant for that space, or as an authorized entrant into that space, as long as that person is trained and equipped as required by OSHA for each role he or she fills.
Does OSHA Require Employees Involved in Confined Space Entry Operations Be Provided With Refresher Training Every Year?
No, they do not. What OSHA standards require is that training shall be provided to each affected employee before the employee is first assigned duties associated with confined space entry, before there is a change in assigned duties, any time there is there is a change in permit space operations that presents a hazard about which an employee has not previously been trained, whenever new equipment on which the employee is untrained is going to be utilized, any time the employer has reason to believe either that there are deviations from permit space entry procedures, or, when it is apparent there are inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use of these procedures. Be aware that OSHA does require employers ensure their employees who perform non-entry rescue and those designated to serve on in-house rescue teams practice making permit space rescues at least once every 12 months, by means of simulated rescue operations in which they remove dummies, manikins, or actual persons from the actual permit spaces or from representative permit spaces that, with respect to opening size, configuration, and accessibility, simulate the types of permit spaces from which rescue is to be performed.