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3 min read

The Essentials of Confined Spaces Training

The Essentials of Confined Spaces Training

Confined spaces are hazardous environments that pose significant risks to workers in various industries. To ensure the safety of employees who work in or near confined spaces, it is crucial to provide them with appropriate training. This article discusses the essential components of confined spaces training, including the definition of confined spaces, permit-required confined spaces, and training requirements. By understanding these elements, employers can better protect their workers and maintain compliance with safety regulations.

What is a Confined Space?

A confined space is an area that meets the following three criteria according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

  1. It is large enough for a worker to enter and perform tasks.
  2. It has limited or restricted means for entry or exit.
  3. It is not designed for continuous human occupancy.

Examples of confined spaces include hoppers, pits, silos, storage bins, tanks, vaults, and vessels. These environments can pose various hazards to workers, such as atmospheric hazards, engulfment hazards, and entrapment hazards.

Recognizing Confined Spaces

To ensure the safety of workers who may encounter confined spaces, it is essential to recognize these areas and understand their potential hazards. Employers should conduct audits and hazard assessments to determine whether a space meets the definition of a confined space and what hazards may be present.

Evaluating a space for potential hazards involves considering aspects such as:

  • The presence of toxic gases, vapors, fumes, or dusts
  • The possibility of oxygen deficiency or enrichment
  • The potential for engulfment by materials such as liquids or loose solids
  • The presence of inwardly converging walls or downward-sloping floors that could trap or asphyxiate workers

By properly identifying confined spaces and understanding their associated hazards, employers can take appropriate steps to protect their workers.

What is a Permit-Required Confined Space?

A permit-required confined space is a confined space that meets one or more of the following characteristics, according to OSHA:

  1. Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere.
  2. Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant.
  3. Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section.
  4. Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.

Entering a permit-required confined space requires an official permit, which outlines the necessary safety measures, entry conditions, and procedures for working in the space.

Permit Space Entry Program

A crucial component of confined spaces training is understanding the permit space entry program. This program outlines the procedures and safety measures required for workers to enter and work in permit-required confined spaces. It includes elements such as:

  • Hazard identification and control
  • Entry permits
  • Roles and responsibilities of entry supervisors, attendants, and entrants
  • Communication and coordination between workers and rescue personnel
  • Emergency response and rescue procedures
  • Training requirements

By following the permit space entry program, employers can minimize the risks associated with working in permit-required confined spaces.

Confined Spaces Training Requirements

OSHA mandates that employers provide confined spaces training to all workers who may be required to enter or work near confined spaces. This training should cover key aspects such as hazard recognition, entry procedures, safety equipment usage, and emergency response.

Initial Training

Initial confined spaces training should be provided to workers before they are assigned to tasks that involve entering or working near confined spaces. This training should cover topics such as:

  • Identifying confined spaces and their associated hazards
  • Understanding the differences between confined spaces and permit-required confined spaces
  • Recognizing the roles and responsibilities of entry supervisors, attendants, and entrants
  • Using safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) properly
  • Following entry procedures and permit requirements
  • Responding to emergencies and coordinating with rescue personnel

Refresher Training

In addition to initial training, workers should receive refresher training periodically, or when:

  • A worker demonstrates a lack of understanding or adherence to safety procedures.
  • Changes in work tasks or confined space hazards occur.
  • New hazards are identified.
  • The employer determines that additional training is necessary.

Refresher training helps ensure that workers maintain their knowledge and skills related to confined spaces safety.

Is Confined Spaces Training Mandatory?

Yes, OSHA requires employers to provide confined spaces training to workers who may be exposed to confined spaces hazards. This training helps ensure that workers understand the risks associated with confined spaces and can take appropriate precautions to protect themselves and their colleagues.

How Often is Confined Spaces Training Required?

While OSHA does not specify a required frequency for confined spaces training, industry experts often recommend annual or biannual refresher training. Additionally, employers must conduct annual assessments of their permit space entry program and conduct practice rescue drills for designated rescue personnel every twelve months.

Key Course Objectives for Confined Spaces Training

The primary goal of confined spaces training is to equip workers with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely work in and around confined spaces. Course objectives should include:

  • Understanding the definition of confined spaces and permit-required confined spaces
  • Recognizing confined space hazards and knowing how to respond to them
  • Familiarity with the permit space entry program, including roles and responsibilities, entry procedures, and communication protocols
  • Proper use of safety equipment, PPE, and emergency response procedures
  • Awareness of the importance of ongoing training and hazard assessments

By covering these objectives, confined spaces training helps ensure that workers are prepared to safely navigate the hazards associated with confined spaces.

Trust Professional Confined Spaces Training Providers

Employers should seek out professional training providers, like Arthur and Hansen, with expertise in confined spaces safety to conduct their training programs. These providers can customize on-site training courses to suit the specific needs of an organization and ensure that workers receive comprehensive instruction on confined spaces safety.

By investing in high-quality confined spaces training, employers can protect their workers, maintain compliance with safety regulations, and foster a culture of safety throughout their organization.


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