There are situations at construction sites where workers may have exposure to working in confined spaces. It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that the workers are provided with adequate training and ensure that OSHA regulations are met. The best approach to protect workers from any accident while working in a confined space is to train employees to recognize a confined space environment and train them first.
What is a Confined Space?
- Is large enough or so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform work.
- Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (i.e. tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry).
- Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Permit required confined space: This is 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 covering walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section.
- Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
It is the responsibility of the employer to follow the below mentioned requirements while working at confined spaces.
- Create confined space entry safety program for workers
- Hazards analysis and assessment
- This is the most important part of the safety plan, employers must assess and identify all the hazards and provide proper safety equipments to ensure that the work is done safely and successfully.
- Provide confined space entry training to all workers
- Develop permits
Recognizing and assessing a confined space is the first step as they can be found in any occupation and their recognition can help prevent accidents. Most deaths in a confined space occurs due to deficiency of oxygen, space may be toxic, or combustible.
It is the duty of the employer to continuously monitor and classify a work site Permit Required Confined Space if it is recognized as highly hazardous.
If you are an employer and perform work in a confined space, then make sure you are fulfilling OSHA requirements to protect your workers from fatalities related to confined spaces and your company from being cited by OSHA for violations.