Defining the Characteristics of Confined Spaces in the Workplace
The workplace is full of confined, restrictive areas that must be accessed to conduct a job. Each of these confined spaces are considered dangerous places that can do a worker harm. Storage tanks, utility tunnels, wells, open ditches, ship holds, culverts, vaults, and cold storage are some examples of confined spaces found in the workplace. Please read below in order to assess and define a confined space in your work environment.
There are several characteristics that define a confined space, including:
- The space is large enough to permit a worker to enter
- The space has limited openings for entry and exit
- The space is not designed for continuous occupancy
- The space is partially or completely enclosed
- The space has the potential for a hazard to be present
Every worker should know and understand the safety considerations before entering into a confined space. Be sure to address the following:
- Understand how to exit the space quickly
- Undersand how to enter the space safely
- Be sure that there is a sufficient amount of oxygen
- Watch out for poor air quality. Be sure that the confined space has been tested and does not contain flammable or toxic vapors
- Be confident that the atmosphere will remain safe while you are in the confined space.
- If there is an emergency while in the confined space, know the company rescue plan.
- Ensure another worker outside the confined space is oberving your activity and ready to act according to the rescue plan if something goes wrong.
- Be sure the rescue equipment is ready for use and in good-working order.