Confined spaces don’t look that dangerous, but they have many hidden hazards. Confined spaces are often not well ventilated, causing them to contain insufficient oxygen or hazardous levels of toxic gases. Working in a tight space can prevent a worker from keeping a safe distance from mechanical and electrical hazards in the space, exposing them to risk of injury. Fumes from a flammable liquid can ignite if not well ventilated.
Because the dangers of a confined space aren’t always obvious, you’ll want to educate workers about the potential hazards. Also note that OSHA requires all confined spaces that may have potential hazard(s) that would risk death, injury or acute illness, incapacitation, entrapment, or otherwise interfere with a worker’s ability to leave the space in an emergency, it is a permit-required confined space, or permit space.
OSHA requires that employers take the following actions on permit spaces:
- specify the precautions to be taken to protect the workers in the space
- train the workers who are covered by the standard to give them the knowledge to protect themselves and others
- plan how to rescue injured workers promptly and safely
OSHA has created a helpful guide to help small businesses comply with the Confined Spaces standard. You can access it here.