OSHA’s standard for confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146) contains the requirements to protect employees in general industry from the hazards of entering permit-required confined spaces.
Employers must evaluate their workplaces to determine if confined spaces are permit spaces. If a workplace contains permit-required confined spaces, the employer must inform exposed employees of their existence and location and the hazards. This can be done by posting danger signs such as “DANGER — PERMIT-REQUIRED CONFINED SPACE- AUTHORIZED ENTRANTS ONLY” or using an equally effective means.
If employees are not to enter and work in permit spaces, employers must take effective measures to prevent them from entering these spaces. OSHA requires the employer to develop a written permit-required confined space entry training program and make it available to employees or their representatives.
What about Emergency Responders?
The Confined Space Entry standard requires employers to also ensure that emergency responders are trained and capable of responding to an emergency, and importantly, in a timely manner. Who will be your emergency responder in the event of an injury or hazard exposure? Do you have trained responders on site or will you rely on local responders?
Employers must provide rescue service personnel with personal protective equipment and rescue equipment, including respirators. Training must be provided on how to use the equipment. Rescue service personnel also must receive the authorized entrants training and be trained to perform assigned rescue duties.
First Aid and CPR Requirements
The Confined Space Entry standard also requires that all rescuers be trained in first aid and CPR. At a minimum, one rescue team member must be currently certified in first aid and CPR. Employers must ensure that practice rescue exercises are performed annually and rescue services are provided access to permit confined spaces so they can practice rescue operations. Rescuers also must be informed of the hazards of the permit-required confined space.
Authorized entrants who enter a permit space must wear a chest or full body harness with a retrieval line attached to the center of their backs, between the shoulder blades, near shoulder level or above their heads. Wristlets may be used if the employer can demonstrate that the use of a chest or full body harness is not feasible or creates a greater hazard.
Also, the employer must ensure that the other end of the retrieval line is attached to a mechanical device or a fixed point outside the permit space. A mechanical device must be available to retrieve someone from vertical type permit spaces more than five feet (1.524 meters) deep.
SDS (formerly MSDS)
If an injured entrant is exposed to a substance for which a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or other similar written information is required to be kept at the work site, be sure the information is made available to the medical facility personnel treating the exposed entrant.