How do I determine if I'm dealing with a "Confined Space"?
In order for a work area to be defined as a confined space it must meet all three of the following criteria:
1) Limited Openings for Entry and Exit. A confined space may be difficult to enter and perform repair work, or general maintenance. If something goes wrong while you are inside a confined space, escape/rescue may be difficult. Just because a work area has more than one way of escape, does not necessarily mean it is not a confined space. If the space has limited ways to get in and out, it could be a confined space. A open top tank would have limited openings for entry and exit.
2) The Space is not Intended for Continuous Human Occupancy. This means that the space was designed to hold something other than people. Examples include tanks and manholes.
3) The Space is Large Enough for You to Enter and Conduct Work. If you cannot fit your body into the space you cannot become trapped inside.
In order for something to be defined as a confined space, it must meet all three of the about definitions. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if a space does not meet all three of the above definitions, it is not considered a confined space.
Now that you know how to tell if a work area is a confined space or not, let's look at some of the various types of confined spaces you may be required to work around.