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Toolbox Talk: Confined Space

By September 21, 2020 No Comments
Construction Company, Garco, Washington

Work Safe in Confined Space!

An estimated 60% of the fatalities have been among the would-be rescuers. Unless you are trained in confined space hazards and how to control them, never enter a confined space.

A confined space is any enclosed or partially enclosed space that you able to enter with restricted entry or exit that is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy.
Some examples of confined spaces include: tanks, access shafts, utility vaults, sewers, pipes, truck or rail tank cars, boilers, manholes, silos and storage bins.

Five Features (*permit required)

  • Able to physically enter space
  • It is not primarily designed or intended for humans except for the purpose of work
  • It has a restricted means of entrance and exit by way of location, size or means
    • OSHA Definition: A condition that has a potential to impede an employee’s movement into or out of a confined space. A space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, if an entrant’s ability to escape in an emergency would be hindered. Examples include, but are not limited to, trip hazards, poor illumination, slippery floors, inclining surfaces and ladders.
  •  It has poor natural ventilation or hazardous atmosphere*
  • It may become hazardous due to design, materials or substances inside, or the work/activities being carried out inside*
  • Note: It can be enclosed or partially enclosed


  • Poor Air Quality: atmospheres with an oxygen content less than 19.5% (deficient) or more than 23% (enriched) are not safe
  • Toxic Gasses: hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke, ammonia, chlorine, etc. are all potentially deadly
  • Flammable Atmospheres: a highly explosive atmosphere can be created when finely ground combustible materials such as grain, carbon, cellulose, fibers, plastics or flammable liquids are present
  • Mechanical, Electrical or Physical Hazards: examples include moving parts, structural hazards, noise, temperature and visibility
  • Loose Materials that may Engulf or Smother: shifting or collapse of bulk material, barrier failures, etc.


The dangers and risks associated with confined spaces are not always obvious.
All hazards must be identified and either eliminated prior to entry, or all precautions are taken for the safety of the person entering the confined space.

Before entering any confined space:

  • Conduct a risk assessment and know the practices and procedures
  • Ensure that adequate atmospheric testing and monitoring is being conducted with an approved air quality monitor
  • Determine the proper Personal Protective Equipment required
  • Ensure a competent watch person is present with an effective emergency response plan
    • The watch person must always have communication with the emergency response team & the person in the confined space
  • Anyone entering a confined space must have confined space training
  • Confined space supervisor must have a valid CPR/First Aid card
  • When in doubt contact the safety department

Remember, safety is your best tool!

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