This blog is a quick reference for folks (private, public or government agenies alike) who are needing a quick reference for the federal guidelines overseeing confined space regulations.
This section does not apply to agriculture, to construction, or to shipyard employment (parts 1928, 1926, and 1915 of this chapter, respectively). 1910.146 (b) Definitions. Acceptable entry conditions means the conditions that must exist in a permit space to allow entry and to ensure that employees involved with a permit-required confined space entry can safely enter into and work within the space.
Confined spaces are addressed in specific OSHA standards for general industry, maritime, and construction. This section highlights OSHA standards and documents related to confined spaces.
Scope and application. This section contains requirements for practices and procedures to protect employees in general industry from the hazards of entry into permit-required confined spaces. This section does not apply to agriculture, to construction, or to shipyard employment (parts 1928, 1926, and 1915 of this chapter, respectively).
Acceptable entry conditions means the conditions that must exist in a permit space to allow entry and to ensure that employees involved with a permit-required confined space entry can safely enter into and work within the space.
Attendant means an individual stationed outside one or more permit spaces who monitors the authorized entrants and who performs all attendant’s duties assigned in the employer’s permit space program.
Authorized entrant means an employee who is authorized by the employer to enter a permit space.
Blanking or blinding means the absolute closure of a pipe, line, or duct by the fastening of a solid plate (such as a spectacle blind or a skillet blind) that completely covers the bore and that is capable of withstanding the maximum pressure of the pipe, line, or duct with no leakage beyond the plate.
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.
Double block and bleed means the closure of a line, duct, or pipe by closing and locking or tagging two in-line valves and by opening and locking or tagging a drain or vent valve in the line between the two closed valves.
Emergency means any occurrence (including any failure of hazard control or monitoring equipment) or event internal or external to the permit space that could endanger entrants.
Engulfment means the surrounding and effective capture of a person by a liquid or finely divided (flowable) solid substance that can be aspirated to cause death by filling or plugging the respiratory system or that can exert enough force on the body to cause death by strangulation, constriction, or crushing.
Entry means the action by which a person passes through an opening into a permit-required confined space. Entry includes ensuing work activities in that space and is considered to have occurred as soon as any part of the entrant’s body breaks the plane of an opening into the space.
Entry permit (permit) means the written or printed document that is provided by the employer to allow and control entry into a permit space and that contains the information specified in paragraph (f) of this section.
Entry supervisor means the person (such as the employer, foreman, or crew chief) responsible for determining if acceptable entry conditions are present at a permit space where entry is planned, for authorizing entry and overseeing entry operations, and for terminating entry as required by this section.
Note: An entry supervisor also may serve as an attendant or as an authorized entrant, as long as that person is trained and equipped as required by this section for each role he or she fills. Also, the duties of entry supervisor may be passed from one individual to another during the course of an entry operation.
Hazardous atmosphere means an atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue (that is, escape unaided from a permit space), injury, or acute illness from one or more of the following causes:
(1) Flammable gas, vapor, or mist in excess of 10 percent of its lower flammable limit (LFL);
(2) Airborne combustible dust at a concentration that meets or exceeds its LFL;
Note: This concentration may be approximated as a condition in which the dust obscures vision at a distance of 5 feet (1.52 m) or less.
(3) Atmospheric oxygen concentration below 19.5 percent or above 23.5 percent;
(4) Atmospheric concentration of any substance for which a dose or a permissible exposure limit is published in subpart G, Occupational Health and Environmental Control, or in subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, of this part and which could result in employee exposure in excess of its dose or permissible exposure limit;
Note: An atmospheric concentration of any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to its health effects is not covered by this provision.
(5) Any other atmospheric condition that is immediately dangerous to life or health.
Note: For air contaminants for which OSHA has not determined a dose or permissible exposure limit, other sources of information, such as Material Safety Data Sheets that comply with the Hazard Communication Standard, § 1910.1200 of this part, published information, and internal documents can provide guidance in establishing acceptable atmospheric conditions.
Hot work permit means the employer’s written authorization to perform operations (for example, riveting, welding, cutting, burning, and heating) capable of providing a source of ignition.
Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) means any condition that poses an immediate or delayed threat to life or that would cause irreversible adverse health effects or that would interfere with an individual’s ability to escape unaided from a permit space.
Note: Some materials – hydrogen fluoride gas and cadmium vapor, for example – may produce immediate transient effects that, even if severe, may pass without medical attention, but are followed by sudden, possibly fatal collapse 12-72 hours after exposure. The victim “feels normal” from recovery from transient effects until collapse. Such materials in hazardous quantities are considered to be “immediately” dangerous to life or health.
Inerting means the displacement of the atmosphere in a permit space by a noncombustible gas (such as nitrogen) to such an extent that the resulting atmosphere is noncombustible.
Note: This procedure produces an IDLH oxygen-deficient atmosphere.
Isolation means the process by which a permit space is removed from service and completely protected against the release of energy and material into the space by such means as: blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines, pipes, or ducts; a double block and bleed system; lockout or tagout of all sources of energy; or blocking or disconnecting all mechanical linkages.
Line breaking means the intentional opening of a pipe, line, or duct that is or has been carrying flammable, corrosive, or toxic material, an inert gas, or any fluid at a volume, pressure, or temperature capable of causing injury.
Non-permit confined space means a confined space that does not contain or, with respect to atmospheric hazards, have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.
Oxygen deficient atmosphere means an atmosphere containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen by volume.
Oxygen enriched atmosphere means an atmosphere containing more than 23.5 percent oxygen by volume.
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.
Permit-required confined space program (permit space program) means the employer’s overall program for controlling, and, where appropriate, for protecting employees from, permit space hazards and for regulating employee entry into permit spaces.
Permit system means the employer’s written procedure for preparing and issuing permits for entry and for returning the permit space to service following termination of entry.
Prohibited condition means any condition in a permit space that is not allowed by the permit during the period when entry is authorized.
Rescue service means the personnel designated to rescue employees from permit spaces.
Retrieval system means the equipment (including a retrieval line, chest or full-body harness, wristlets, if appropriate, and a lifting device or anchor) used for non-entry rescue of persons from permit spaces.
Testing means the process by which the hazards that may confront entrants of a permit space are identified and evaluated. Testing includes specifying the tests that are to be performed in the permit space.
Note: Testing enables employers both to devise and implement adequate control measures for the protection of authorized entrants and to determine if acceptable entry conditions are present immediately prior to, and during, entry.
The employer shall evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are permit-required confined spaces.
Note: Proper application of the decision flow chart in appendix A to § 1910.146 would facilitate compliance with this requirement.
If the workplace contains permit spaces, the employer shall inform exposed employees, by posting danger signs or by any other equally effective means, of the existence and location of and the danger posed by the permit spaces.
Note: A sign reading “DANGER – PERMIT-REQUIRED CONFINED SPACE, DO NOT ENTER” or using other similar language would satisfy the requirement for a sign.
Entry into the permit space under the terms of paragraph (c)(5)(i) of this section is performed in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section.
Note: See paragraph (c)(7) of this section for reclassification of a permit space after all hazards within the space have been eliminated.
The employer shall verify that the space is safe for entry and that the pre-entry measures required by paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of this section have been taken, through a written certification that contains the date, the location of the space, and the signature of the person providing the certification. The certification shall be made before entry and shall be made available to each employee entering the space or to that employee’s authorized representative .
If it is necessary to enter the permit space to eliminate hazards, such entry shall be performed under paragraphs (d) through (k) of this section. If testing and inspection during that entry demonstrate that the hazards within the permit space have been eliminated, the permit space may be reclassified as a non-permit confined space for as long as the hazards remain eliminated.
Note: Control of atmospheric hazards through forced air ventilation does not constitute elimination of the hazards. Paragraph (c)(5) covers permit space entry where the employer can demonstrate that forced air ventilation alone will control all hazards in the space.
Permit-required confined space program (permit space program). Under the permit space program required by paragraph (c)(4) of this section, the employer shall:
Immediately provide each authorized entrant or that employee’s authorized representative with the results of any testing conducted in accord with paragraph (d) of this section.
Note: Atmospheric testing conducted in accordance with appendix B to § 1910.146 would be considered as satisfying the requirements of this paragraph. For permit space operations in sewers, atmospheric testing conducted in accordance with appendix B, as supplemented by appendix E to § 1910.146, would be considered as satisfying the requirements of this paragraph.
Provide at least one attendant outside the permit space into which entry is authorized for the duration of entry operations;
Note: Attendants may be assigned to monitor more than one permit space provided the duties described in paragraph (i) of this section can be effectively performed for each permit space that is monitored. Likewise, attendants may be stationed at any location outside the permit space to be monitored as long as the duties described in paragraph (i) of this section can be effectively performed for each permit space that is monitored.
Review entry operations when the employer has reason to believe that the measures taken under the permit space program may not protect employees and revise the program to correct deficiencies found to exist before subsequent entries are authorized; and
Note: Examples of circumstances requiring the review of the permit space program are: any unauthorized entry of a permit space, the detection of a permit space hazard not covered by the permit, the detection of a condition prohibited by the permit, the occurrence of an injury or near-miss during entry, a change in the use or configuration of a permit space, and employee complaints about the effectiveness of the program.
Review the permit space program, using the canceled permits retained under paragraph (e)(6) of this section within 1 year after each entry and revise the program as necessary, to ensure that employees participating in entry operations are protected from permit space hazards.
Note: Employers may perform a single annual review covering all entries performed during a 12-month period. If no entry is performed during a 12-month period, no review is necessary.
Appendix C to § 1910.146 presents examples of permit space programs that are considered to comply with the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section.
Before entry is authorized, the employer shall document the completion of measures required by paragraph (d)(3) of this section by preparing an entry permit.
Note: Appendix D to § 1910.146 presents examples of permits whose elements are considered to comply with the requirements of this section.
Entry permit. The entry permit that documents compliance with this section and authorizes entry to a permit space shall identify:
The authorized entrants within the permit space, by name or by such other means (for example, through the use of rosters or tracking systems) as will enable the attendant to determine quickly and accurately, for the duration of the permit, which authorized entrants are inside the permit space;
Note: This requirement may be met by inserting a reference on the entry permit as to the means used, such as a roster or tracking system, to keep track of the authorized entrants within the permit space.
The measures used to isolate the permit space and to eliminate or control permit space hazards before entry;
Note: Those measures can include the lockout or tagging of equipment and procedures for purging, inerting, ventilating, and flushing permit spaces.
Any other information whose inclusion is necessary, given the circumstances of the particular confined space, in order to ensure employee safety; and
Any additional permits, such as for hot work, that have been issued to authorize work in the permit space.
Duties of authorized entrants. The employer shall ensure that all authorized entrants:
Duties of attendants. The employer shall ensure that each attendant:
Remains outside the permit space during entry operations until relieved by another attendant;
Note: When the employer’s permit entry program allows attendant entry for rescue, attendants may enter a permit space to attempt a rescue if they have been trained and equipped for rescue operations as required by paragraph (k)(1) of this section and if they have been relieved as required by paragraph (i)(4) of this section.
Duties of entry supervisors. The employer shall ensure that each entry supervisor:
Evaluate a prospective rescuer’s ability to respond to a rescue summons in a timely manner, considering the hazard(s) identified;
Note to paragraph (k)(1)(i): What will be considered timely will vary according to the specific hazards involved in each entry. For example, § 1910.134, Respiratory Protection, requires that employers provide a standby person or persons capable of immediate action to rescue employee(s) wearing respiratory protection while in work areas defined as IDLH atmospheres.
Provide the rescue team or service selected with access to all permit spaces from which rescue may be necessary so that the rescue service can develop appropriate rescue plans and practice rescue operations.
Note to paragraph (k)(1): Non-mandatory appendix F contains examples of criteria which employers can use in evaluating prospective rescuers as required by paragraph (k)(1) of this section.
[58 FR 4549, Jan. 14, 1993; 58 FR 34845, June 29, 1993; 59 FR 26115, May 19, 1994; 63 FR 66038, Dec. 1, 1998; 76 FR 80739, Dec. 27, 2011]