As an employer, it’s your job to provide your workers with a safe environment to perform their required job duties. Your employees are your most important asset, so their safety should always be your number one priority.
If your company requires workers to enter “confined spaces” ─ those technically large enough to enter to perform certain jobs, but not designed for human occupancy ─ it’s essential that you provide them with the proper level of protection. This includes spaces like manholes, tanks, tunnels, pipelines, ductwork, and more.
Permit-Required Confined Space
Certain types of confined spaces are considered a greater hazard than others. According to OSHA, the term “permit-required confined space,” is used to describe an area containing at least one of the following potential dangers:
- Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere.
- Contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant.
- Walls converge inward or floors slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant.
- Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, including unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
If you require employees to enter spaces containing any of the above safety hazards, you must develop and implement a permit system prior to beginning work. This is used as a safeguard, to ensure all necessary steps have been taken to keep your team safe while performing work in a confined space. Supervisors must sign the permit, workers must have the opportunity to review it, and a copy must be posted at the entry point.
OSHA also requires you to create a detailed written permit space document (pdf), outlining all necessary processes and procedures for your team to stay safe while completing work of this nature. This document should be readily available to all impacted employees or their representatives.
Non-Permit-Required Confined Space
OSHA allows permit-required spaces to be reclassified as non-permit-required spaces if the following conditions are met:
- The workspace poses no actual or potential hazards.
- All hazards in the space can be eliminated without actually having to physically enter the space.
- Forced-air ventilation to control hazards does not count as eliminating them.
A contractor must visit your worksite to verify these conditions are met. The certification must be available to employees prior to entrance.
Getting the job done right and making sure your team stays safe in the process should always be your main concern. OSHA puts these rules and regulations in place for one very good reason ─ to make your company a safe place to work.
At Eco-Rental Solutions, LLC, we’re passionate about the environmental testing equipment and instrumentation business. We offer the best customer service, equipment, and rates to save our customers time and money.
We offer a full line of confined space air monitoring tools, including: