Levitt-Safety Blog

What the heck is a confined space, anyway?

Tony GuarinoNational Manager - Training, Consulting & RentalAugust 20, 2020

What is a confined space?

A confined space is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a space with limited entry or exit and is not suitable for people.

When thinking of confined space examples, most people jump to sewers, access shafts or down manholes. But, silos, water supply towers, rail tank cars and even airplane wings are confined spaces.

rail tanker on tracks

A space must meet these four definitions to be deemed confined:

    1. Enclosed or partially enclosed space.
    2. Not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy.
    3. Restricted access or exit.
    4. A space that is or may become hazardous to a person entering it because of its design, construction, location, atmosphere or the materials or substances in it or other conditions.

Why are confined spaces dangerous?

Think of all the hazards you find in a regular workspace. Now picture those hazards in a small space – the risk increases significantly.

This includes challenges like temperature extremes, noise, poor visibility and communication. But these are the four main dangers:

  1. Oxygen deficiency or enrichment.
  2. Fire or explosion.
  3. Toxicity.
  4. Drowning in liquids or free-flowing solids.

Create a confined space hazard assessment and control program:

Employers must develop and implement the program to manage the risks associated with working in confined spaces.

It outlines the work your team is doing and address the unique work for each space.

Some of the items that that should be included in the hazard assessment and control program include and are not limited to:

  • Description of roles and responsibilities of each person or party (e.g., employer, supervisor, workers, attendants, and emergency response team).
  • Advice on how to identify confined spaces.
  • The identification and assessment of all potential hazards that may exist at the beginning of the work as well as those that may develop because of the work activities.
  • A plan to eliminate or control all identified hazards.
  • Written work procedures.
  • Training program for all the workers that will enter into the confined spaces.
  • The establishment of an entry permit system for each entry into the space.
  • Development of an emergency plan complete with training and equipment in case an unforeseen situation occurs.
  • An emergency response system.
  • Reporting and investigating incidents related to work in confined spaces.
  • Record and documentation control.
  • Program review whenever there is a change in circumstances or at least annually, to identify program weaknesses and make any necessary changes to the program.

What is confined space training? How long does it take?

There are a variety of training courses available, each suited for different roles and activities within confined spaces. Training can take anywhere from a half-day to three full days and you will receive a certificate for successful completion.

Confined Space Awareness, Entry and Standby Training:

Awareness, entry and standby training is necessary to allow workers to enter and work in confined spaces.

This training meets the training requirements as required by applicable provincial regulations.

Along with teaching applicable regulations, you'll learn about air-monitoring and scenario-based evaluations based on your company's procedures.

Learn more

Confined Space Rescue Training:

Rescue technician training focuses on hazards and entry requirements.

It also provides skills and knowledge to coordinate, perform and supervise a technical confined space rescue incident.

Learn more

Confined Space Rescue Training (Non-IDLH):

Confined space rescue industry training (Non-IDLH) provides students with knowledge on hazards and entry requirements.

On top of that it highlights the required rescue competencies as outlined in NFPA 1006 and NFPA 1670.

Learn more

Online training courses for confined spaces:

Check out one of our many comprehensive online courses related to confined space entry and safety:

Want more help?

There is a lot to consider when working in confined spaces because you don’t have the same margin of error compared to working in a regular work area.

Levitt-Safety has a full offering for confined space including:

  • Products
  • Equipment inspection, maintenance and repair services
  • Online and in-person training
  • Hazard assessment and control programs

Fill out this form and a member of our team will contact you!