Confined Space Entry

Confined Space Hazard Alert

This hazard alert can help employers and employees prevent deaths and injuries in confined spaces. Since confined spaces may be encountered in virtually any industry their recognition is the first step in preventing fatalities and injuries.

Confined Spaces Can Be Deadly

  • October 2011: Two brothers, aged 16 and 22, died in an underground drainage system at a recycling center when the younger brother was overcome by hydrogen sulfide and his brother rushed to the rescue and was overcome as well.
  • July 2011: One worker at a commercial laundry died of traumatic asphyxia when he was unloading a large horizontal washer and was pulled into the space and crushed when the washer was inadvertently activated while the worker reached in to unload the machine.
  • January 2011: One worker died and two co-workers seriously injured at a pharmaceutical plant. The first worker died when he entered a large reactor vessel in which nitrogen had displaced oxygen. Two other workers were injured when they attempted to rescue the first worker.

Entering a confined space without following all required procedures and having an effective emergency rescue plan can result in serious injuries or death. More than 60% of confined space fatalities occur among would-be rescuers.

What Is A Confined Space?

For all employers and employees a confined space exhibits these types of characteristics:

  • Is large enough and configured such that an employee can bodily enter and perform work;
  • Has limited openings for entry and exit;
  • Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy;
  • Has the potential for a hazardous atmosphere that may include the lack of or too much oxygen, and/or the presence of toxic or explosive vapors or gases such as hydrogen sulfide and methane; and/or
  • Has physical safety hazards such as machinery, sources of electrical shocks, liquids (drowning or fires), steam (burn hazard), or loose, unstable materials that can cause employees to be trapped, crushed, or buried.

Examples of confined spaces include but are not limited to: water and sewer pipes, pumping stations, manholes, boilers, vats, kilns, vaults, silos, storage bins, meter vaults, tunnels, tanks, wastewater wetwells, grit chambers, utility tunnels, crawl spaces under floors, water reservoirs, holding tanks, pits, and sumps.

Why Are Confined Spaces Deadly?

Confined spaces are deceiving and often appear to be harmless. Danger signs (such as dead animals, rusting walls, odors) are often not apparent and the space may have been entered before without incident. Never assume that conditions have not changed and that the space is safe for entry at all times.

How Can Work Be Done Safely In Confined Spaces?

When possible, avoid entering these spaces by using devices or equipment that allows work to be done from the outside. If they must be entered, Cal/OSHA has regulations for working safely in confined spaces. Please refer to the specific standard for your industry and operations. For general industries such as manufacturing facilities, T8CCR 5157, “Permit-Required Confined Spaces” requirements apply. For employers and employees in Construction, Agriculture, Marine Terminals, Grain Handling, Telecommunications, Natural Gas and Electric Utilities, and Shipyard Operations, the regulations in T8CCR 5158, “Other Confined Space Operations” and other regulations apply.
In general, confined space regulations require all employers to have:

  • A written confined space plan, including recognizing and marking all confined spaces on site;
  • Procedures to test and monitor the air inside confined spaces before and during all employee entries;
  • Procedures to prevent unauthorized entries and to have an attendant outside the space at all times;
  • Effective controls of all existing atmospheric or safety hazards inside the confined space;
  • Employee and supervisor training on safe work procedures, hazard controls, and rescue procedures; and
  • Effective rescue procedures which are immediately available on site


Employees should never enter the space until all the safety precautions are in place and they have been authorized to enter. Emergency procedures must be in place and ready before any employee enters a confined space.

Course Description

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports an average 67 deaths per year due to fatal incidents within confined spaces.

In 1993 the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration adopted the new confined space rule that places responsibility on the employer for development and enforcement of confined space policies. This regulation sets standards for preventing employee exposure to confined space hazards.


The employer shall provide training so that all employees whose work is regulated by the confined space regulations acquire the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of the duties assigned. SafetyGENI™ offers several levels of Confined Space Entry courses.

2 Hour Confined Space Awareness

There are two types of confined spaces: Those that require a permit for entry and those that can be entered without a permit. This course is designed to inform the students about the difference between a permit-required confined space and a non-permit-required confined space.

Course content includes
Identifying a confined space; when a permit is required; typical hazards; atmospheric monitoring equipment; personal protective equipment; ventilation equipment; exposure symptoms; and an exam.

8 Hour Confined Space Competent Person

This course is specifically designed to increase the student’s knowledge of hazards associated with permit-required confined space entry. This course is a site specific course and will incorporate the employer’s policy and procedures for entering a confined space. As much as possible, we will train with the employer’s confined space entry hardware, monitoring devices, and personal protective equipment in order to provide training that is useful as well as effective.

Course content includes
Definition of a confined space and permit required confined space; entry procedures; required elements of a confined space program and permit system; hazards; ventilation; lockout tagout procedures; equipment; duties of the entrant, attendant, and supervisor; evacuation and rescue procedures; closing an entry operation; and an exam.

Definition of a confined space and permit required confined space; entry procedures; required elements of a confined space program and permit system; hazards; ventilation; lockout tagout procedures; equipment; duties of the entrant, attendant, and supervisor; evacuation and rescue procedures; closing an entry operation; and an exam.

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