Identifying whether there is a confined space in the workplace can sometimes be tricky. This can especially be true in HVAC due to working in a different home or building each day. Each comes with a new area to assess and work in. Confined spaces for this industry vary widely including attics, crawl spaces, small closets etc.
Is it a confined space?
An area is a confined space if the answer is yes to these three questions:
- Is it large enough for a person to enter?
- Is the entry/exit restricted?
- Is the area designed for occupancy?
Is a permit required?
A permit-required confined space exists if one of these conditions are present:
Yes, to one = permit required
- Is the atmosphere hazardous?
- Engulfing hazard present?
- Does it slope or have walls?
- Other hazards present?
Simplifying the process of determining if a confined space exists will ensure employees are properly protected in areas that have a potential threat to life and health. There are no room for shortcuts. The result could have deadly consequences.
What to do when encountering a confined space:
- Employees should not enter a confined space unless they have been through confined space training within the last 3 years
- Determine if the space is permit required
- Follow the company’s confined space written program
- Remove any hazards that can be removed before entering
- Ensure there is adequate safety equipment before entering such as ventilation equipment, air monitors and an emergency plan in place
- An attendant should be present just outside of the area anytime someone is working inside
If there is question of whether an area is considered a confined space, a manager should be contacted.