Page last reviewed: 08/14/2007
- OSHA Alert: Loss of Start-Up Oxygen in CSE SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuers [2 MB PDF*, 2 pages]. (2012, April). Alerts employers and workers using the CSE Corporation’s SR-100 Self-Contained Self-Rescuer (SCSR) to potential failure problems with these respirators.
- Permit-Required Confined Spaces in General Industry [53 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA QuickCard. Explains what workers should do before entering a confined space, such as an underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, silos or manholes.
- Confined Spaces in Construction; Proposed Rule. OSHA Federal Register Proposed Rules
72:67351-67425, (2007, November 28). OSHA is proposing a rule to protect employees from the hazards resulting from exposure
to confined spaces in the construction industry.
Employment. OSHA eTool. Confined and enclosed space
operations have a greater likelihood of causing fatalities, severe injuries,
and illnesses than any other type of shipyard work.
Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered "confined" because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines. OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
Confined space hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry and shipyard employment.
This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards), and national consensus standards related to confined spaces.
Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
- 1910 Subpart H, Hazardous materials,
- 1910.124, General requirements for dipping and coating operations
- 1910 Subpart J, General environmental controls
- 1910.146, Permit-required confined spaces
- Appendix A, Permit-required confined space decision flow chart
- Appendix B, Procedures for atmospheric testing
- Appendix C, Examples of permit-required confined space programs
- Appendix D, Confined space pre-entry check list
- Appendix E, Sewer system entry
- Appendix F, Rescue team or rescue service evaluation criteria (Non-mandatory)
- 1910 Subpart Q, Welding, cutting, and brazing
- 1910 Subpart R, Special industries
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
- 1915 Subpart B, Confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres in shipyard employment
- 1915.11, Scope, application, and definitions applicable to this subpart
- 1915.12, Precautions and the order of testing before entering confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres
- 1915.13, Cleaning and other cold work
- 1915.14, Hot work
- 1915.15, Maintenance of safe conditions
- 1915.16, Warning signs and labels
- Appendix A, Compliance assistance guidelines for confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres
- Appendix B, Reprint of US coast guard regulations referenced in Subpart B, for determination of Coast Guard authorized persons
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)
- Z117.1 - 2003, Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces
For information related to construction, see OSHA's Confined Spaces - Construction page.
Hazards and Solutions
Confined spaces may be encountered in virtually any occupation; therefore, their recognition is the first step in preventing fatalities. Since deaths in confined spaces often occur because the atmosphere is oxygen-deficient, toxic or combustible, confined spaces that contain or have the potential to contain a serious atmospheric hazard should be classified as Permit-required confined spaces and should be tested prior to entry and continually monitored. The following references aid in recognizing and evaluating hazards and possible solutions related to confined spaces.
- Safe Tank Entry: When Entering Aboveground Storage Tanks [191 KB PDF*, 4 pages]. OSHA and the OSHA Safe Tank and Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA) Alliances, (2008, July). Includes information on how to prevent confined space entry-related injuries when working in aboveground storage tanks.
- Confined Spaces Advisor 1.1. OSHA, (2007, March). A downloadable version is also available. Provides an interactive expert help for the Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard (29 CFR 1910.146). Assists users in identifying confined spaces and deal with permit-required confined spaces.
- Permit-required Confined Spaces. OSHA Quick Card 3214-10N-05, (2006). A Spanish version is also available.
- Procedures for Atmospheric Testing in Confined Spaces [21 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September).
- Working Outdoors in Warm Climates [74 KB PDF*, 2 pages]. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2005, September).
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 587 KB PDF, 56 pages.
- Permit-required Confined Spaces. OSHA Publication 3138-01R, (2004). Also available as a 665 KB PDF, 23 pages.
- Asphyxiation Hazard in Pits: Potential Confined Space Problem. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (1996, June 13). Alerts the reader that pits may be permit-required confined spaces which are regulated by 29 CFR 1910.146.
- Suffocation Hazards in Flat Storage Buildings and Tanks. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (1994, December 15). Heightens awareness of the existence of a serious engulfment (suffocation) hazard in grain handling facilities.
- Confined Space Entry on Drilling Rigs. OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB), (1990, May 30).
- Hydrogen Sulfide. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides information on how hydrogen sulfide can affect your health, where you might find it, and how to prevent harmful exposures.
- Hurricane Preparedness and Response. OSHA. Includes information such as news releases, public service announcements, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, and more.
- Confined Spaces. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.
- NIOSH Warns Farmers of Deadly Risk of Grain Suffocation. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 93-116, (1993, April 28). Discusses cases of nine farmers that suffocated to death in stored grain after being buried alive.
- Preventing Deaths of Farm Workers in Manure Pits. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-103, (1990, May). Describes seven deaths from asphyxiation (suffocation) that occurred during two incidents involving entry into manure pits.
- Preventing Occupational Fatalities in Confined Spaces. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-110, (1986, January).
- Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Working in Confined Spaces. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 80-106, (1979, December).
- Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Concentrates on investigations of fatal occupational injuries, causes of death and recommendations for accident prevention. The following worker fatal injury facts were found in occupational confined space:
- Completed Investigations. U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).
- OSHA Confined Space Entry Poster. National Ag Safety Database (NASD).
- Confined Space Hazards a Threat to Farmers. National Ag Safety Database (NASD), (2002, April). Discusses modern farming methods that have brought new dangers that arise from farmers entering confined areas where oxygen levels may be inadequate or where toxic gases are present.
- Beware of Manure Pit Hazards. National Ag Safety Database (NASD), (2002, April). Discusses cases that have been reported where several individuals have died while attempting to rescue a coworker or family member from a manure pit.
- Confined Space Entry Policy and Procedures Manual. St. Olaf College.
- Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 587 KB PDF, 56 pages. Contains basic information about occupational safety and health, with specific focus on the needs of small business.
- Confined Spaces. National Ag Safety Database (NASD). Provides a linked reference to several videos relating to confined space entry.
- ANSI Z117.1 Committee. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).
Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.
*These files are provided for downloading.