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:

  1.  Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and
  2.  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
  3.  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:

  1.  Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
  2.  Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant;
  3. 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
  4. 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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