In 29CFR Part 1910, OSHA defines “confined space” as one that meets all three of these conditions [1910.146(b)]:
- An employee can bodily enter it and perform the assigned work.
- Means for entry or exit are limited or restricted.
- It’s not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
A space that meets only two of the three may require special precautions, but it’s not considered a confined space. To allow employees to enter such a space, an employer is legally required to do some planning and produce specific documentation. The confined entry permit is an example of such a document.
The legally required steps go a long way toward protecting you. But no matter how much effort goes into planning and into properly developing that permit and other documentation, you are the person with the ultimate responsibility. The company might get fined for an error or oversight, but it’s your life on the line when you enter that confined space.
This means you don’t totally leave it up to others to ensure you are going to be able to work safely in that space. Two things you need to do, regardless of the specifics:
- Study your company’s Confined Space procedures. Take notes on anything that’s not clear, and get clarification from a responsible manager, such as the safety director.
- Carefully examine a blank Confined Space Permit. For each item on there, write down how you would verify the condition has been met.
Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection