A confined space can mean man things to different people. OSHA defines a confined space as a space that is:
“Confined space” means a space that:
- Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and
- Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.); and
- Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
The answer to items 1-3 must be true to identify any space as a confined space. Many people confuse the terms confined space and permit required confined space. A permit required confined space is defined as
“Permit-required confined space (permit space)” means a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:
- Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
- Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant;
- Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or
- Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
If the answer is yes or true for any of the items 1-4 the space is permit required and the full protection requirements of the general industry and construction confined space standard apply.
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