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35.75 - Confined Space Standards


  • Position: Environmental Health and Safety Director
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Last updated: August 18, 2005

A. General. When university employees enter a space that is not designed for normal occupancy and has restricted means of access or egress, they are entering a confined space. Examples of confined spaces include, but are not limited to, underground electrical vaults, water tanks, boilers, silos or bins, trenches, and tunnels. Depending on the conditions within a confined space, there can be a significant risk of serious physical injury or even death if proper precautions are not taken. This standard has been developed to help ensure employees are able to identify and minimize the risks associated with confined spaces.

A-1. Regulatory Requirements. This confined space standard is based on Section .043 of the Idaho General Safety & Health Standards and Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910.146. These standards require written permit programs for the purpose of working in hazardous confined spaces.

B. Process. The following procedures and work practices must be followed by all university employees and students who enter confined spaces.

B-1. Supervisory Responsibilities. This standard assigns specific responsibilities for university supervisors. Specifically, all supervisors must:

i) Ensure that potentially hazardous confined spaces within their workplaces are identified and evaluated.

ii) Ensure that affected personnel are informed of the location and dangers of confined spaces by posting signs or by other equally effective means.

iii) Implement a written confined space program that describes the means, procedures and safe work practices necessary when hazardous confined spaces are entered. Written programs must include:

A listing of confined spaces that have been evaluated and determined to contain, or have the potential to contain, serious hazards.

A description of acceptable entry conditions for each hazardous confined space.

Standardized checklists to use whenever hazardous confined spaces are entered. (See Section D-2 for sample checklists).

iv) Ensure that personnel are provided with proper training, and are required to use the communication, air monitoring and personal protective equipment required for safe entry, exit, or work in confined spaces.

v) Ensure that confined spaces are re-evaluated when space use or configurations change.

vi) Ensure that non-university personnel (i.e., contractors, inspectors, etc.) are apprised of confined spaces and associated hazards that have been identified in their anticipated work areas. Non-university personnel may use their own procedures and equipment provided their activities are coordinated with authorized university personnel.

vii) Implement effective measures to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering hazardous confined spaces.

B-2. University Employee and Student Responsibilities. This standard assigns specific responsibilities for university employees and students. Specifically all employees and students must:

i) Comply with the requirements and guidelines described in this standard.

ii) Follow the procedures contained in their department’s written confined space program.

iii) Properly use the air monitoring and personal protective equipment they are provided with to protect them from hazards they may encounter.

B-3. Environmental Health and Safety Personnel. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) personnel will, upon request, assist supervisors in:

i) Identifying, evaluating and monitoring confined spaces for known or potential hazards.

ii) Developing appropriate checklists, permits and procedures, and in determining the personal protective equipment that must be worn to ensure safe entry and egress from confined spaces.

iii) Ensuring that equipment purchased or used to monitor atmospheric conditions is appropriate and maintained as required to ensure accurate and consistent performance.

C. Procedures.

C-1. General Requirements. Departments must identify and report to EHS all confined spaces within their work areas of responsibilities. Specifically, a “confined space” meets the following criteria:

The space is big enough for a person to enter and do work,

The space has restrictive entrances or exits, and

The space is not intended for continuous human occupancy.

C-2. Evaluation of Confined Spaces. EHS personnel will assist supervisors in evaluating confined spaces for specific hazards. Any changes in the use or configuration of a confined space already evaluated must be reported to EHS.

C-3. Classification of Confined Spaces. Depending on the hazards identified, each confined space will be classified by EHS as either a non-permit space or a permit space and posted as required.

C-4. Non-Permit Spaces. Non-permit spaces are defined as confined spaces which do not contain, and are not expected to develop, serious hazards to life and/or health during entry.

i) Although written permits are not required to enter non-permit spaces, only authorized personnel are allowed to enter such spaces.

ii) Examples of hazards in non-permit spaces may include excessive noise, slick/wet surfaces, temperature extremes, and/or the possibility of falling objects.

C-5. Permit Spaces. Permit spaces are defined as confined spaces with any of the following conditions:

The space contains, or has the potential to contain, a hazardous atmosphere.

The space contains, or has the potential to contain, materials such as water, sand, grain or wood dhips that could engulf a worker.

The space has sloping sides or is otherwise shaped in a way that could trap a worker.

Activities conducted or materials used near or inside the space could create a serious atmospheric or physical to life and/or health (examples include welding, grinding, metal cutting, use of caulks, adhesives, cleaning agents, solvents or other chemical that could create an oxygen deficient, flammable or toxic atmosphere.

The space contains, or has the potential to contain, any other serious hazard.

C-6. Permit-space entry procedures. The following precautions must be taken upon entering permit-spaces:

i) A written permit-space checklist must be completed prior to entry and remain posted near the entry(s) into the space throughout entry operations.

ii) Except as described in Sections C-7 and C-8, entry into a permit-space may only be accomplished by an adequately trained and equipped team that includes a qualified and authorized entry supervisor, attendant(s), and entrant(s).

iii) Ensure that an adequately trained and equipped rescue team(s) is/are available to respond should an emergency occur.

C-7. Hazardous Atmospheres. If the only serious hazard posed by a space is an actual or potentially hazardous atmosphere, the space may be able to be entered using less restrictive alternative procedures, provided:

i) Procedures and processes that are used to monitor and control atmospheric hazards are approved by EHS prior to entry into the space.

ii) Appropriate checklists are followed.

iii) Completed alternative procedure checklists are posted near the entry(s) to the space prior to, and remain in place, throughout entry operations.

C-8. Reclassification of Confined Spaces. Designated permit-spaces may be re­classified and entered as non-permit spaces, provided:

i) All actual and potential serious hazards are eliminated before the space is entered.

ii) Procedures and processes used to eliminate atmospheric hazards are approved by EHS prior to entry.

iii) The procedures and processes used to eliminate all serious hazards are documented by the use of appropriate checklists.

iv) Completed re-classification checklists are posted near the entry(s) to the space prior to, and remain in place throughout, entry operations.

D. Training. EHS will assist supervisors in ensuring that appropriate training materials and opportunities are made available to personnel affected by this standard.

D-1. Additional Information. For additional information on confined spaces, please contact EHS at (208) 885-6524.

D-2. Sample Checklists. Checklist samples that may be copied and used to comply with the requirements of this standard are linked below:

i) Checklists used in confined space entry must be color-coded (printed on colored stock) as follows:

ORANGE: Permit-Required Checklists [Contact EHS Office]

YELLOW: Alternative-Procedure Checklists [Contact EHS Office]

GREEN: Reclassification Checklists [Contact EHS Office]

ii) Departments/divisions may develop and use checklists of their own design during confined space entry operations, provided:

a) Checklists are reviewed and approved by EHS; and

b) Checklists are used in compliance with all provisions contained in this section.

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