Blog Post #15 – In this post to The Confined Space Training Blog, we examine one more reason a confined space in the workplace must be classified as a permit-required confined space. And that is when a confined space has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant. OSHA explains in their documentation this would occur primarily by compressing the torso of the trapped entrant, making it difficult to escape or to breath.
Examples of Confined Spaces with Potential Entrapment Hazards
Some examples of confined spaces where entrapment such as this could occur include, but are not limited to cyclones, hoppers, and similarly constructed discharge chutes on some storage silos. Large industrial baghouses are another type of confined space that, depending on how they are constructed, could also fit into this category. And in a few cases, relatively large ductwork configured to transition down to a smaller size could create an entrapment issue for an entrant. One final example of where this hazard could be present is in underground stormwater collection and retention systems constructed with floors that slope down toward a small-sized drain opening.
Ironically, many of the hazardous situations for entrapment are not exposed until precautions are taken to eliminate another serious hazard inside of a confined space; engulfment. For example, when emptying the contents of a cone-shaped hopper to eliminate an engulfment hazard, we may expose the entrant to an entrapment hazard in the now-empty space. So, always remain aware that sometimes, we create or expose hazards when we eliminate others.
In review, a confined space having walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant must be classified as a permit-required confined space. Entry into such a space requires confined space training for all affected workers and a permit entry system be in place.
Please provide your feedback and/or questions about this blog post on entrapment hazards in confined spaces in the comments section below. And if possible, please provide some other examples where this particular type of hazard could be present in the workplace. Then, be sure to come back later and read our next blog post (#16), where we will discuss the final category of hazards that can trigger the designation of a permit-required confined space.
And as always, I ask that you take a moment to spread the word about our confined space training blog by sharing a link to this post with others in your network so they can benefit from this information. Thanks – Curtis