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How to Safely Work in a Permit-Required Confined Space

If workers must enter permit-required confined spaces, then a written permit program and the use of detailed confined space permit is needed. Using a written permit will help ensure every worker can safely enter, work, and exit a permit-required confined space.

Worker with Confined Space Checklist at Entrance of Confined Space

Confined spaces are more commonly found on the job than most workers realize. The term confined space means any space that is large enough for a worker to enter and perform tasks but isn’t designed for workers to be inside continuously and has limited or very restricted means for entry or exit.

When confined spaces are identified it is critically important that they be evaluated to find out if there are any hazards present.  OSHA requires that if there are hazards, then the area must be classified as a permit-required confined space.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1203(d) If any employer decides that employees it directs will enter a permit space, that employer must have a written permit space program implemented at the construction site.
OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.146(c)(4) If the employer decides that its employees will enter permit spaces, the employer shall develop and implement a written permit space program that complies with this section.

OSHA regulations require that confined space entry permits contain at least the following information:

  1. Location or identification of the space
  2. Purpose or reason why the entry is needed
  3. Date and length of time the permit will last
  4. Names of the persons entering and a way to track who is inside
  5. Names of the attendants for the entry
  6. Name and signature of the entry supervisor
  7. Hazards in the confined space being entered
  8. Safety measures used to isolate, eliminate, or control the hazards in the confined space
  9. Conditions required before entry is allowed
  10. Results, names, and times of air monitoring tests
  11. Emergency and rescue services that will be used and how to contact them
  12. Communication procedures to keep in constant contact with the entrants
  13. List of safety, testing, and other equipment to be used
  14. Additional information such as special safety requirements or procedures
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1205(a) and General Industry Standard 1910.146(e)(1) Before entry is authorized, each entry employer must document the completion of measures required by… preparing an entry permit.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1205(d) and General Industry Standard 1910.146(e)(4) The duration of the permit may not exceed the time required to complete the assigned task or job identified on the permit.
Confined Space Permit at Entrance of Confined Space

Permits and their procedures used for confined space entry will vary depending on the company, project, customer and actual site conditions. Regardless, these rules must always be followed:

  • Prevent unauthorized entry into the permit-required confined space.
  • Evaluate and identify the hazards of the permit space before entry is started.
  • Use any practices needed to ensure safe entry and work inside the permit-required confined space.
  • Before entry begins, the entry supervisor identified on the permit must sign the entry permit to authorize entry.
  • The signed and completed permit must be available at the time of entry to all authorized entrants by posting it at the entry point.
OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1205(c) and General Industry Standard 1910.146(e)(3) The completed permit must be made available… by posting it at the entry portal or by any other equally effective means, so that the entrants can confirm that pre-entry preparations have been completed.
Worker in Confined Space

During the work inside the permit-required confined space the air must be tested and monitored periodically to ensure safe conditions are being maintained.

At any time during the work the permit can be canceled, if conditions change or a new safety hazard has been discovered.

Once a confined space entry has been successfully completed the permit must be kept on file for at least one year as part of an annual review process.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.1205(e) and General Industry Standard 1910.146(e)(5) The entry supervisor must terminate entry and cancel the entry permit when the entry operations covered by the entry permit have been completed; or a condition that is not allowed under the entry permit arises in or near the permit space.
Supervisor Completing Forms

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