What is a confined space?

Workplace safety is going to look very different depending on what environment people are working in. One of the most dangerous places that people work are confined spaces. Confined spaces are areas where there isn’t very much room for the person to perform their work. The OSHA definition of confined spaces says that the area must meet the following requirements:

  • The space where the person is working must be large enough for a person to fully enter and perform work.
  • The area where they are working must not be designed for continuous occupancy.
  • The space must have limited and/or restricted means of entry or exit.

There are many different areas that meet these requirements. What makes them very important for workplace safety is the fact that they have additional hazards that must be addressed. A company that asks employees to enter confined spaces must provide them with a reasonable assurance of safety. This is typically done by having a good plan of how the work can be safely performed.

Examples of Confined Spaces

The following are some of the more common examples of confined spaces that are found at many work sites:

  • Underground Vaults – Vaults that are underground are some of the most common examples of a confined space.
  • Silos – Silos used in farming are considered confined spaces because of the limited options for entrance and exit. In addition, most of the work areas are quite small since it is unsafe to actually go on the grain being stored.
  • Pits – Entering a pit is common in mining and other industries. They can be quite small and exiting the pit can be challenging.
  • Storage Tanks – These are typically cylinders that are used for storing or transporting liquids. People may need to enter them for cleaning.

Taking the time to identify workplaces that are confined, or even places that someone may need to enter in an emergency, is important for everyone’s safety. Any area that meets the criteria to be a confined space will need to have a safety program in place to ensure everyone is as safe as possible.


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