Confined Space Training
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.
OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
Employers need to have a “qualified person” determine if a confined space exists at a work site whether inside the building or outside.
The qualified person, having taken the OSHA confined space training program, needs to identify the hazards workers may face in the space and be familiar with instruments and procedures to test for oxygen levels, flammability, toxic substances and other contaminants that may be in the area.
Many of the harmful substances are odorless, tasteless and colorless an can pose a serious threat to the workers. Scores of workers are killed every year because they thought someone had checked for safety or because they “followed their noses” and guessed the air smelled okay.