Confined Space Safety Policy

by Rayce Bannon

This article briefly describes the nine parts of a comprehensive yet efficient confined space safety program.

1 - Purpose - The confined space safety policy states the requirements for the identification and safe entry into both permit required and non-permit required confined spaces. The policy applies to areas of the workplace not designed for continuous occupancy and containing recognized serious safety or health hazards.

2 - Reference - OSHA 29 CFR 1910.146

3 - Scope - Applicable to all of the business's employees, visitors and contractors.

4 - Administration - Variable, but generally administration of the confined space policy is by safety coordinators, supervisors, engineers and other trained managerial staff.

5 - Definitions - Can be standard, see: OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Act

6 - Descriptions - Confined Space is an area/space where an employee
- Has limited openings for entry and egress
- Can bodily enter and which is large enough to perform assigned work
- Could be engulfed by bulk materials
- Is not intended to continuously occupy

Non-Permit Required Confined Space is a confined space neither containing nor having the potential to contain any hazard.

Permit Required Confined Space is a confined space with
- A hazardous atmosphere or potential for it
- Material that could engulf an entrant
- Converging/tapering walls/floors that could entrap or asphyxiate
- A recognized hazard.

Procedures Followed For All Permit Required Confined Space Entry Permit
- Issuance - By the supervisor, mandatory for the employee, one shift in duration.
- Cancellation - At shift end or on job completion.
- Retention - Must be reviewed and kept. - Alternate Entry/Space Reclassification - Specific ref: OSHA 29 CFR 1910.146 (c)(5)/(c)(7)
- Pre-Entry Briefing - By permit issuing entry supervisor.
- Contractor Notification - Outside contractor adheres to procedures - compliance must be assured.
- Lighting Requirements - Natural, auxiliary, emergency.
- Special Tools and Equipment - Intrinsically safe in flammable or combustible atmosphere.
- Preparation and Hazard Control - Preventing engulfment, burns. Lockout/tagout procedures.
- Assuring adequate ventilation.
- Pre-Entry Atmospheric Testing - Includes employee training with testing equipment.
- Monitor Calibration and Testing
- Field and Manufacturer Testing.
- Attendant Duties - Mandatory for permit required confined space entry, no other duties.
- Entry Supervisor Duties - Trained and authorized entry supervisor.
- Safety Equipment - PPE, non-entry rescue, rescue, general.
- Equipment Inspection - Per manufacturer's recommendation.
- Handling Problems
- Rescue and Emergency Services - Documented, available, trained, equipped.
- Summoning Rescue Services Procedure

7 - Responsibilities - Employees and Entry Supervisor - Safety Coordinators - Supervisors - Contractors

8 - Training - Initial - Refresher - Annual

9 - Revision - Annually by Safety Coordinators

These are the nine parts of a Confined Space Safety Policy. The actual policy expands on each item, and those details are available at: Confined Space Safety Policy

Additional briefs on the subject of industrial safety, environmental health and safety, and loss control are available at: Environmental Safety Articles

About the Author:
Rayce Bannon is a freelance writer working closely with Evan Casey and his staff at Great Lakes Environmental and Safety Consultants.

The contact form for questions and assistance from Evan Casey and the staff at Great Lakes Environmental and Safety Consultants is at: