OSHA has new rules when it comes to confined spaces. A confined space has limited openings for entry or exit and is large enough for entering and working. They are not designed for continuous worker occupancy. These area include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, underground utility vaults and pipelines. See 29 CFR 1910.146.
OSHA Now Has Permits Required For Confined Spaces That:
- may contain a hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere
- may contain a material which can engulf an entrant
- may contain walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
- may contain other serious physical hazards such as unguarded machines or exposed live wires
- must be identified by the employer, who must inform exposed employees of the existence and location of such spaces and their hazards.
Only trained personnel can enter the permit required confined spaces. They must review understand and follow the employers procedures before entering. They must also know how and when to exit such space. Before they enter, they must identify any physical hazards, test and monitor for oxygen content, flammability, toxicity, or explosive hazards which may be present.
They should use the employers confined space safety equipment which includes fall protection equipment, confined space retrieval equipment, air-monitoring equipment, ventilation equipment, and lighting and communication equipment. These should be used according to entry procedures pre-established.
Once entered, they must maintain contact at all times with a trained supervisor via visual, phone, or two-way radio. This monitoring enables the supervisor to order the worker to evacuate and if needed to alert the appropriately trained rescue personnel to rescue the worker when needed.
The choice of the equipment to use is of the utmost importance when you have to work in confined spaces. The gravity of the situation is further enhanced when the problem of getting trapped in the confined space is enhanced. Buy only certified equipment from reputable companies.