OSHA Instruction CPL 2.100 May 5, 1995 Directorate of Compliance Programs
Subject: Application of the Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS)
Standard, 29 CFR 1910.146.
A. Purpose. This instruction establishes enforcement policy and
provides explanation of the standard to ensure uniform enforcement.
B. Scope. This instruction applies OSHA-wide.
1. OSHA Instruction CPL 2.103, September 26, 1994, Field
Inspection Reference Manual (FIRM).
2. Federal Register, Vol.58, No.9, January 14, 1993,
pages 4462-4563, Permit-Required Confined Spaces, Final Rule, 29 CFR
3. Federal Register, Vol.58, No.123, June 29, 1993, pages
34844-34851, Permit-required Confined Spaces, Corrections to Rule, 29 CFR
4. Federal Register, Vol.59, No. 213, November 4, 1994,
page 55209, Permit-required Confined Spaces, Technical amendment to preamble,
29 CFR 1910.146.
5. Federal Register, Vol.59, No. 227, November 48, 1994,
pages 60735-60739, Permit-required Confined Spaces, Notice of proposed
rulemaking, 29 CFR 1910.146.
6. OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A, May 14, 1986, CH-2, January 29,
1990, and CH-3, February 27, 1990, the State Plan Policies and Procedures
7. OSHA Instruction ADM 1-1.12B, December 29, 1989, the
Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) Forms Manual.
8. OSHA Instruction STP 2-1.170, March 22, 1993, Permit-Required
Confined Spaces for General Industry.
9. Public Law 91-596, December 29, 1970, Occupational Safety and
Health Act of 1970 (the Act).
D. Action. Regional Administrators and Area Directors shall
ensure that the procedures established by this instruction are followed.
E. Federal Program Change. This instruction describes a Federal
program change which affects State Programs. Each Regional Administrator
1. Ensure that this change is promptly forwarded to each State
Designee using a format consistent with the Plan Change Two-Way Memorandum in
Appendix P, OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A, CH-2.
2. Explain to each State Designee, as requested, the technical
content of the change and the guidelines in paragraphs H., I., J., and K. of
3. Ensure that State Designees acknowledge receipt of this
Federal program change in writing to the Regional Administrator when the
State's intention is known, but not later than 70 calendar days after the
issuance (10 days for mailing and 60 days for response). This acknowledgment
must include a statement indicating whether the State will follow the
guidelines in this instruction or develop alternative guidelines.
4. Ensure that State Designees submit a State plan supplement,
in accordance with OSHA Instruction STP 2.22A, CH-3, as appropriate,
following the established schedule that is agreed upon by the State and
Regional Administrators to submit non-Field Operations Manual/OSHA Technical
Manual Federal program changes.
a. The State plan supplement should be in the form of a
State directive or policy/procedure document, which details procedures for
implementing the guidelines in the State.
b. The State's acknowledgment of the Plan Change Two-Way
Memorandum may fulfill the plan supplement requirement if the appropriate
documentation is provided.
5. Review policies, instructions and guidelines issued by the
State to determine that this change has been communicated to State
F. Background. The Final Rule for Permit-Required Confined
Spaces was published in the Federal Register on January 14, 1993, and
became effective on April 15, 1993. The standard is based on years of
gathering information on confined space fatalities and on testimony about the
hazards of confined spaces from all sectors of industry and labor. Because it
applies to all of general industry, a performance-oriented standard
was developed rather than a specification standard.
G. Standard Overview. This standard describes minimum safety and
health program management practices for a permit-required confined space
(permit space). It also recognizes the dynamic character of permit spaces as
they occur in general industry. Thus, the standard and our enforcement focus
on the employer's whole program as conceived, documented and
implemented as a primary safeguard for employees and on the capacity
of that program to detect confined space hazards and to respond to them
appropriately. Inherent in the standard is the requirement (29 CFR
1910.146(c)(6)) for employers to be ever mindful that changes in non-permit
confined spaces may create or introduce a hazard that would necessitate
reevaluation and, in some cases, reclassification of spaces.
NOTES: Appendix A to 1910.146 the Permit-required Confined Space
Decision Flow Chart" of the Final Rule is an excellent aid in reviewing this
instruction. (See Appendix A of this instruction.)
The references which appear after each paragraph are
provided to identify other relevant sections in Appendix E of this
1. Paragraph (a) of the standard states that 1910.146 is a
General Industry standard. Employment in agriculture (1928), construction
(1926), or shipyard employment (1915) is not covered by 1910.146.
[Appendix E, Section (a)]
2. Paragraph (b) contains definitions of key terms used in the
standard. [Appendix E, Section (b)]
3. Paragraphs 1910.146(c)(1) through (c)(4), outline the
employer's general obligations to identify permit spaces in the workplace,
and to take protective action. Briefly, the employer shall:
a. Evaluate the workplace to identify spaces that meet
the definition of a permit space because of existing or potential hazards
[(c)(1)]; [Appendix E, Section (c)]
b. Inform exposed employees [(c)(2)] (by posting danger
signs or by any other equally effective means) of the existence, location,
and the danger posed by the permit spaces; [Appendix E, Section
c. Decide if its employees are going to enter the permit
spaces. If the employer decides that employees will not enter a permit space
[(c)(3)], the employer shall take measures to prevent entry and shall comply
with paragraphs (c)(1), (c)(2), (c)(6) and (c)(8). If entry is allowed
[(c)(4)], the employer shall comply with 1910.146(d), except as provided in
paragraphs (c)(5) and (c)(7). [Appendix E, Section
d. Paragraph (c)(5) provides alternate procedures for
entry of permit spaces where the employer establishes that the only hazard
posed by a permit space is an actual or potential hazardous atmosphere and
that continuous forced air ventilation alone is sufficient to maintain the
permit space safe for entry. [Appendix E, Section
4. Paragraphs (c)(6) and (c)(7) provide for reclassification of
spaces when changes occur which either introduce or eliminate hazards.
[Appendix E, Section (c)]
5. Paragraphs (c)(8) and (c)(9) set responsibilities for host
employers and contractor employers, respectively, when the host employers
arrange to have contractors conduct permit space entry operations.
[Appendix E, Section (c)]
6. Paragraph (d) Sets the elements of a PRCS program.
[Appendix E, Section (d)]
7. Paragraphs (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j) describe the minimum
requirements for a "Permit System," the "Entry Permit," "Training," and
"Duties" of active participants involved in the permit space entry,
respectively. [Appendix E, Sections (e), (f), (g), (h), (i),
8. Paragraph (k) contains provisions relating to the rescue of
entrants. [Appendix E, Section (k)]
H. Compliance Officer Safety. OSHA prohibits routine entry by
Compliance Officers into permit spaces. If entry must take place, the
guidelines found in Appendix C of this instruction shall be employed.
I. Inspection Procedures. The following guidelines are for
determining when to evaluate an employer's PRCS program. Any Compliance
Officer who is familiar with the standard and with this inspection policy may
evaluate an employer's PRCS program.
NOTE: Appendix D of this instruction is intended only as an aid for
Compliance Officers, and is not intended to be the sole basis on which an
employer's PRCS program is evaluated.
1. Unprogrammed Inspections. A comprehensive PRCS
program review is expected to include a review by the CSHO of all confined
spaces. The review is to be a part of all unprogrammed inspections
where the subject of the complaint, referral, or initiating event is permit
space hazards. The employer's PRCS program is expected to be evaluated if
the compliance officer believes that permit space hazards exist even though
they were not the subject of the complaint, referral, or event.
2. Programmed Inspections. A PRCS program review
normally shall be part of comprehensive general industry programmed
inspections in any workplace where confined spaces may exist. Where a review
is not done and permit spaces are found to exist in the workplace, the
basis for the decision not to review shall be explained in the case
J. Documentation for Violations. Because the standard focuses on
the integrity of the employer's program and each of its components,
Compliance Officers are expected to carefully review the employer's written
permit space program and the documentation in support of that program, and
note the extent of any discrepancy between the program as documented and as
it is implemented. Deficiencies in either program content or implementation
may be cited, but the basis for any citation must be explicitly substantiated
in the case file.
K. Citation Guidance. Citations for violations of the PRCS
standard shall be issued in accordance with the FIRM, Chapters III and IV.
1. Classification of Violations. Any violation of the
PRCS standard could lead to a condition which might result in death or
serious physical harm to employees; such violations shall normally be
classified as Serious. Note: The agency's de minimis policy
will apply for employers who utilize the alternate retrieval line attachment
point referred to by the proposed rule change to the standard for chest or
full body harness.
2. Citations. Citing in the alternative As noted
in Appendix E, the standard applies to maintenance activities, but not to
construction. In situations where the nature of the work being performed is
ambiguous; (i.e., it may be viewed as either construction or maintenance) the
citation should note the section of the standard which was violated and, in
the alternative, the hazard which constitutes a violation of the general duty
clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the Act).
Other-than-serious violations may be grouped with a serious
characterization, following FIRM guidance.
L. Special Enforcement Situations. Appendix B of this
instruction contains a list of particular standards which apply in specified
situations. When there is a question as to the appropriate standard
(vertical or horizontal), the vertical standard shall be cited primarily with
the general standard cited in the alternative.
Joseph A. Dear Assistant Secretary
DISTRIBUTION: National, Regional, and Area Offices All Compliance Officers
State Designees NIOSH Regional Program directors OSHA Training Institute
Appendix A. Permit-Required Confined Space Decision Flow Chart
(For Appendix A, see printed copy)
Specific Vertical Standards Taking Precedence
These particular vertical standards take precedence over the Permit-required
Confined Space standard for the hazards they address. Clarification note:
The term "confined space(s)" as used in standards promulgated before the PRCS
standard are to be considered equivalent to a "permit space(s)" in 29 CFR
Standard Working in Confined Spaces
1910.252(a)(4)(i) Removal of arc welding electrodes during
suspension of work in confined spaces.
1910.252(b)(4)(i) to (vii) Protection of personnel
welding in confined spaces (ventilation, securing
welding equipment, lifelines, attendants, electrode removal, gas cylinder
1910.252(c)(4) Health protection and ventilation for
welder and outside helper during welding operations in confined spaces.
1910.252(c)(9) Specifies ventilation and respiratory
protection requirements for welding in confined spaces using cadmium-bearing
1910.252(c)(10) Specifies local exhaust ventilation or
respiratory protection for welding and cutting mercury-coated or-bearing
materials, including paint, in confined spaces.
1910.261(b)(5) Specifies safe practices (lifeline, safety
harness, attendant, atmospheric testing, availability of SCBA, and lock out)
for entering a vessel in pulp, paper, and paperboard mills
1910.268(o) Addresses certain hazards involving
manhole and unvented vault entry by telecommunication employees.
1910.269(e) Applies to routine entry into enclosed
spaces by qualified employees preforming operations or maintenance work
within the scope and application of 1910.269.
1910.269(t) Provides additional requirements for work
in underground electrical installations.
1910.272(g) Specifies entry procedures for bins,
silos, and flat storage buildings and tanks with a diameter less than the
height, and for all top entries of these structures in grain facilities.
1915.12 Precautions before entering confined and
enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres.
1915.14 Hot work being performed in confined or
1917.23 Addresses entry into hazardous atmospheres
at marine terminals (testing, ventilation, standby observers).
1917.152(b) Requires that work not be performed in
confined space until it is determined, through atmospheric testing, that the
space is not hazardous.
1917.152(f)(2) Requires ventilation and respiratory
protection, with standby person, when hot work is done in confined spaces.
1917.152(f)(3) Specific requirements for welding,
cutting, or heating of toxic metals in confined spaces.
1918.93 Addresses entry into storage spaces or
tanks where potential hazardous atmospheres exist
1926.21(b)(6)(i) Requires instructions to employees who
enter confined or enclosed spaces.
1926.21(b)(6)(ii) Defines the confined and enclosed spaces
which require instruction.
1926.352(g) Fire prevention measures associated with
the use of fuel gas and oxygen in enclosed spaces.
1926.353(b)(1) Requirement for exhaust ventilation when
welding, cutting, or heating is performed in confined spaces.
1926.353(b)(2) Requires air line respirators and standby
person whenever the means of access is blocked by ventilation equipment.
Permit-required Confined Space Entry By
1. Entry Policy for CSHOs. Only CSHO's who are
experienced and trained in confined space entry may enter permit-required
confined spaces. The training requirements specified in this appendix are a
minimum for this purpose.
2. CSHO Safety and Health. CSHO's, in coordination with
supervisors, should evaluate the hazards identified by the employer which are
present in the permit-required confined space. In addition, the space should
be independently evaluated by the CSHO for any other hazards which may be
present. Appropriate precautionary measures should be based on both of the
a. Besides personal protective equipment normally issued
to the CSHOs, a CSHO who is conducting inspections involving entry of
permit-required confined spaces shall be given ready access to all equipment
necessary for safe entry.
b. A second trained CSHO will act as an attendant when
the first CSHO enters the permit space. Both CSHOs will be cross-trained in
each other's duties as an entrant and an attendant.
c. The CSHO who will enter the confined space may use
the permit entry procedures established by the employer only after a thorough
review and comparison of those procedures with 1910.146. If there is a
potential or actual discrepancy between the standard and the
employer's procedures, the CSHO will contact a supervisor to discuss further
actions by the CSHO. Entry will not commence until all discrepancies have
d. No entry will be attempted until the equipment
necessary for safe entry has been provided and all provisions of the
1910.146 standard have been met.
3. Training Minimum training for a CSHO who will be
entering a permit space is:
a. The Confined Space entry course offered by OSHA's
Training Institute or equal.
b. Respiratory Protection course (9 day) offered by
OSHA's Training Institute or equal.
c. Introduction to Industrial Hygiene for Safety
Personnel course offered by OSHA's Training Institute or
PRCS Program Evaluation Considerations
This appendix has been included for general guidance only. It is
not intended to direct the CSHO's investigation or restrict the manner in
which an employer's program is evaluated.
I. INITIAL INFORMATION
A. To what degree is the employer familiar with the standard and
its contents? (Does the employer understand the key terms defined in the
B. Request identification of those confined spaces evaluated and
determined to require a permit, their locations, along with any documentation
as to the permit space determination (memos, contract, report, etc.) and when
the determination was made.
1. How does the employer meet the standard's requirement
of paragraph (c)(6) for review of existing non-permit confined spaces for
hazards which would convert them to a permit space?
C. Evaluate the process by which the employer identified any
permit spaces, as follows:
NOTE: If an employer elects not to have its employees enter
the permit space, a thorough evaluation of each space is not
1. Analyze the evaluation method and equipment used.
a. Was the determination made based upon historical
data? If so, how reliable is that data?
b. Were the substance's hazards appropriately
identified and evaluated to comply with paragraph (d)(2) of the standard?
All the hazards that can affect the safety and health of entrants must be
determined; e.g., gasoline is flammable but also contains benzene which can
be a health hazard.
c. Were the sampling methods and/or testing equipment
appropriate for each substance?
d. Are mechanical and other non-atmospheric hazards,
for the space or for the work to be performed in the space, addressed in the
employer's evaluation method?
2. If the employer has arranged to have some other party
(consultant or insurance carrier) evaluate the workplace, request a copy of
the report presented to the employer in order to assess the adequacy of the
3. Where there are the permit spaces.
D. Are contractors performing permit space entries? If so,
determine who they are and their work location.
1. Are these spaces multi-employer worksites?
2. Did the contractor develop the permit space program
in use? If not, whose program is being used or followed by the contractor?
If so, how was their program coordinated with the host employer's PRCS
3. What measures have the employers taken to facilitate
coordination and safety for multi-employer worksites? Examples of these
measures might be communications systems, postings, assignments of liaison
personnel, or contractual agreements.
1. What is the employer's policy with regard to employee
entry referenced in paragraph (c)(2), and how are the employees informed of
2. How are the affected employees referenced in
paragraph (g)(2) identified? Who are they?
3. How are affected employees informed of the employer's
policies on permit space entry?
4. How and when are new or reassigned employees informed
of the existence and locations of permit spaces?
5. Is the employer's PRCS program used in employee
B. The trainer:
1. Who are the individuals conducting the training, and
what training are they providing?
2. For the training being presented, is the trainer
knowledgeable about the subject matter in general and with the particular
permit space situations at the workplace?
C. The employer:
1. How does the employer verify that the training has
2. How does the employer evaluate employee proficiency
in the duties required by the permit space program?
3. What criteria does the employer use to decide if
retraining is necessary?
III. PRCS PROGRAM.
A. Obtain a copy of the employer's written policies and
1. Where is the written program normally kept?
2. Who is in charge of the PRCS program?
3. Does the written program provide for compliance with
the applicable elements listed in paragraph (d) of the
B. Does the program provide appropriately for employee input
regarding the classification of spaces, the identification of hazards,
training, the adequacy of entry procedures and precautions, and other areas
where employee knowledge and experience would be pertinent?
IV. ENTRY PROCEDURES
A. Obtain a list of entrants or identify the employees who have
been assigned the duties of "authorized entrant," "attendant," "entry
supervisor," and determine who is authorizing entry. During the inspection,
interview a sufficient number of employees in each category to evaluate the
training provided and the permit space program's effectiveness.
B. Determine the name, position, and training of the person(s)
responsible for authorizing or in charge of entry under the permit system
C. Are the alternate procedures referenced in paragraph (c)(5)
being employed for permit space entry?
1. Review all data relating to each (c)(5) entry
undertaken. The following are some examples of questions the CSHO may
a. What is the size (volume) and configuration of the
b. How have the physical properties (molecular
weight, vapor pressure, etc.) of the atmospheric hazards been considered in
the design of the ventilation plan?
c. What is the capacity of each piece of ventilation
equipment being used? Does capacity match requirements of the
d. What is the air exchange rate required to maintain
acceptable entry conditions under a worst case
e. What are the procedures the employer uses to
determine acceptable entry conditions?
f. Where and how is the data maintained?
g. Do the entrants know what are the "safe for entry"
conditions and where the supporting data is
h. How does the employer demonstrate that the only
hazards in the permit space are atmospheric?
i. How did the employer demonstrate that continuous
forced air ventilation would maintain the permit space safe for
j. How did the employer collect and document the
monitoring and inspection data used to support application of paragraph
k. How does the employer make the documentation of
determinations and supporting data available to permit space
l. How does the employer determine that the
operations or activities being performed within the permit space (for
example: mucking, cleaning, etc.) do not contribute to the atmospheric
m. If employees needed to enter the permit space to
obtain the data required by paragraph (c)(5)(i)(C), what procedures and
equipment were used to comply with paragraphs (d)-(f) and
2. Ask to see any documentation from previous entries
using the alternate procedures.
3. Identify the equipment to be used for sampling and
monitoring the permit space to comply with paragraph
a. Determine if the equipment is being maintained and
calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer's
b. Have air sampling, monitoring plans and procedures
been developed which take into consideration any sampling equipment
c. Do sampling plans include measuring exposure at
the employee locations as well as other locations in the
4. Who has the employer authorized to certify that the
pre-entry measures required under paragraph (c)(5) have been
a. What does the certifier know about the permit
space being entered?
b. How is the certification made available to each
employee entering the space?
c. Are there any entry procedures used beyond those
required by paragraph (f)(1), to inform entrants of entry conditions and how
they relate to the acceptable entry conditions that have been
d. How does the employer notify entrants of the need
to exit the space when a hazardous atmosphere is
Review the employer's policy to determine which rescue procedures are being
employed. If non-entry rescue has been ruled out, ascertain which of the
entry rescue options has been implemented.
A. Non-entry rescue:
1. If non-entry rescue is being practiced, what
equipment is used?
2. If non-entry rescue is not being practiced, what are
the employer's reasons for not using it?
3. Does the employer review each space to be entered to
determine whether to employ or not to employ non-entry
B. On-site rescue services: (A host employer's own
1. Determine the number of employees assigned to perform
rescue, verify training for each member of the rescue service, and find out
which of them have a current first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation
2. Review the rescue procedures as they compare with the
written PRCS program, and with the requirements of paragraph
3. Note the work shifts of the rescuers and compare them
to the permit entry times.
C. Non-host employer rescue employees (off-site):
1. Who provides the off-site rescue service and where is
the service located?
2. How is the arrangement between the employer and the
off-site rescue service documented (contract, letter of agreement, verbal
3. How does the employer decide, given the identified
permit-space hazards, that the off-site rescue service's response time,
experience, and training are adequate?
4. Have the rescue service training requirements in
paragraph (k)(1) been met?
5. What method is used to summon rescuers?
6. Are rescue services on-call or on-site when permit
space entry is underway?
7. What is the response time for rescue service?
8. How does the employer verify that the rescue service
will be available during the time of employee entry?
1. If combination of on-site and off-site rescue
services is employed:
a. Obtain a copy of the rescue plan which describes
the roles of each party, and
b. Verify that the on-site and off-site rescue
services employees have trained together as a team.
c. Determine if, the combined rescue services enable
the employer to comply with the requirements for rescue
Questions and Answers for PRCS Standard Clarification
SECTION (a) - Scope and Application
1. Are only those employers engaged in manufacturing operations
covered by the PRCS standard?
No. The standard applies to all general industry places of
employment. Among them are Agricultural services, Manufacturing,
Transportation and Utilities, Wholesale Trade, Food Stores, Hotels and Other
Lodging, Health Services, Museums, Botanical Gardens and Zoos but to name a
2. What Agricultural Standard Industrial Classification codes (SIC)
fall under the scope exemption of the standard?
SIC Codes in Major Groups 01 and 02 which are directly related to
crop and livestock production are exempt. All other major groups within
agriculture will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
3. When is work in the Telecommunication Industry covered by the
generic 1910.146 standard?
Telecommunications employers do have obligations under PRCS
standard. Like all other General Industry employers, 1910.146(c)(1) requires
them to evaluate the workplace to determine if there are any permit spaces.
It is expected that these spaces have been known for years and there is most
likely a history of any manholes that present hazards not already addressed
by 1910.268. Those manholes which are suspected of posing "other" hazards
must be evaluated under 1910.146(d)(2). The detailed evaluation does not
have to be completed prior to the effective date of the standard, but does
have to be completed prior to entry.
Many hazards encountered in telecommunications work in manholes and
unvented vaults are addressed by 1910.268(o). The telecommunications standard
will continue to be applied to those hazards, and the provisions of 1910.146
would not apply where the provisions of 1910.268(o) already apply. However,
the agency can envision manholes and work situations that will be covered by
1910.146. For example, although it is rare, manholes can become
overwhelmingly contaminated with toxins or other hazardous chemicals. If the
work area cannot be made safe before entry, through compliance with
1910.268(o)(2)(i)(B), any entry would be performed under the provisions of
Confined space hazards in General Industry that are not
addressed by an industry-specific standard will be covered by
OSHA also considers entry operations or activities which produce
toxins or create other hazards, which are not controlled through compliance
with 1910.268(o), to be covered by 1910.146.
4. How will OSHA enforce the PRCS standard in Electrical Power
Basically the alternate entry procedures of 29 CFR 1910.269 for
"enclosed spaces" and "underground installations" apply to "qualified
employees" performing maintenance or operations work. 29 CFR 1910.146 will
continue to apply in all other PRCS situations.
5. How will OSHA address confined space hazards confronted by
Confined spaces in shipyard employment are not subject to the
1910.146 standard. The revised 29 CFR 1915 (F.R./ Vol. 59, No. 141 dated
July 25, 1994) addresses Confined and Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous
Atmospheres in Shipyard Employment. However, if there are hazards present
that the 1915 standard does not address, 1910.5 provides for the application
of the general standard, in this case 1910.146.
6. How will the 1910.146 standard apply to Marine Terminals and
The 1910.146 standard does not apply to Marine Terminals (29 CFR
1917) or to Longshoring (29 CFR 1918).
7. Must an employer covered by an industry-specific standard perform
the initial workplace evaluation required by 1910.146(c)(1)?
Yes. Employers with spaces covered by a specific industry standard
must still determine if they have spaces which would qualify as a permit
space not covered by the industry specific standard. Therefore, all
employers must do an initial evaluation under 1910.146(c)(1).
8. A facility, falling within the scope of the General Industry
standards, is undertaking physical changes involving work in permit spaces.
These changes will also employ construction practices either by in-house or
contractual employees. Which standard, 1910.146 or 1926.21(b)(6), will be
enforced for the work involved in the permit-required confined spaces?
Generally speaking, refurbishing of existing equipment and space is
maintenance; reconfiguration of space or installation of substantially new
equipment (as for a process change) is usually construction. Those spaces
identified under 1910.146(c)(1) as permit spaces that are undergoing
maintenance or modifications, which do not involve construction, would be
subject to the General Industry standards.
A confined space created during or as a result of construction
activity or entered to perform construction activity would usually fall
within the scope of the 29 CFR 1926 standards and the general duty clause
until the space is turned over for General Industry operations.
* The lining in a tank is in need of restoration either to
prevent the structural part of the tank from deteriorating or to prevent the
product from being contaminated by the material making up the tank structure.
In either case, the partial patching or total removal of existing lining and
replacement is maintenance. The installation of a new lining for the above
reasons is also maintenance.
* The relining of a furnace with new refractory is
* Tuck pointing and individual brick replacement in a manhole
* The relining of a sewer line using a sleeve which is pushed
through a section of the existing system is maintenance.
* Repainting, which is part of a scheduled program to maintain
a system or prevent its deterioration is maintenance.
9. Can a utility, other than telecommunication or electrical
distribution, apply the 1910.268(o) or the 1910.269 rules for their street
No, the procedures for manhole entry with regard to
telecommunication and electrical distribution were developed specifically to
address certain anticipated hazards for those industries.
The rulemaking process for the General Industry standard for
confined spaces specifically reviewed, addressed, and incorporated into the
final rule the hazards of manholes used in conjunction with the distribution
of other utility services, and thus 1910.146 is the appropriate standard to
SECTION (b) Definitions
1. Under what circumstances will stairs or ladders constitute a
limited or restricted means of egress under the standard?
Ladders, and temporary, movable, spiral, or articulated stairs will
usually be considered a limited or restricted means of egress. Fixed
industrial stairs that meet OSHA standards will be considered a limited or
restricted means of egress when the conditions or physical characteristics of
the space, in light of the hazards present in it, would interfere with the
entrant's ability to exit or be rescued in a hazardous situation.
2. Does the fact that a space has a door mean that the space does not
have limited or restricted means of entry or exit and, therefore, is not a
A space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit if an
entrant's ability to escape in an emergency would be hindered. The
dimensions of a door and its location are factors in determining whether an
entrant can easily escape; however, the presence of a door does not in and of
itself mean that the space is not a confined space. For example, a space
such as a bag house or crawl space that has a door leading into it, but also
has pipes, conduits, ducts, or equipment or materials that an employee would
be required to crawl over or under or squeeze around in order to escape, has
limited or restricted means of exit. A piece of equipment with an access
door, such as a conveyor feed, a drying oven, or a paint spray enclosure,
will also be considered to have restricted means of entry or exit if an
employee has to crawl to gain access to his or her intended work location.
Similarly, an access door or portal which is too small to allow an employee
to walk upright and unimpeded through it will be considered to restrict an
employee's ability to escape. OSHA published a technical amendment to the
preamble in Federal Register / Vol. 59, No. 213 / Friday, November 4, 1994,
3. Can the distance an employee must travel in a space such as a
tunnel, to reach a point of safety be a determinant for classifying a space
as a confined space?
Yes. The determination would most likely be a function of the time
of travel to the point of safety.
4. How will OSHA assess a space which is entirely open on one plane,
such as a pit, in determining whether a space has limited or restricted means
for entry or exit?
In determining whether a space has limited or restricted means for
entry or exit, OSHA will evaluate its overall characteristics to determine if
an entrant's ability to escape in an emergency would be hindered. Thus, a
pit, shaft or tank that is entirely open on one plane can be considered a
confined space if the means for entering the space (stairway, ladderway,
etc.) are narrow or twisted, or otherwise configured in such a way as to
hinder an entrant's ability to quickly escape (See question No. 1 of this
section). Similarly, the pit, shaft, or tank itself may be confining because
of the presence of pipes, ducts, baffles, equipment or other factors which
would hinder an entrant's ability to escape.
5. How will compliance officers interpret a "condition in which the
dust obscures vision" with reference to the definition of a hazardous
The phrase appears in a note and is meant to be an informational aid
to employers and employees in approximating the lower flammable limits. It
should be noted that combustible dusts have differing lower flammable limits
which are dependent on the composition of the dusts, the particle size,
distribution and other factors. Since the airborne concentration may vary
considerably within the space, and the settled dust may also pose hazards, it
is important that the employer recognize the potential hazards when entering
confined spaces containing such dust and that the employer take appropriate
precautions for protection of entrants.
Regarding flammable dusts in confined space, it will be OSHA policy
to sample and to analyze such dusts for combustibility, prior to issuing
citations, whenever there is doubt as to the nature and extent of the dust
hazard. Note that existing permissible exposure limits for nuisance dusts and
other standards continue to apply.
6. How will OSHA address a space that does not satisfy the criteria
for a confined space but that potentially contains a hazardous
Employers must comply with the permissible exposure limits and other
requirements contained in standards addressing specific toxic substances and
air contaminants, to the extent applicable, in all spaces in which employees
may be present. In addition, the respiratory protection standard, 29 C.F.R.
1910.134, applies where an employee must enter a space in which a hazardous
atmosphere may be present and no other specific standard applies. The
respiratory protection standard contains special precautions for working in
atmospheres that are oxygen deficient or immediately dangerous to life or
7. Are the hazards posed by a confined space to be considered in
determining whether a space meets the definition of a confined space?
The determination whether a space has "limited or restricted means
for entry or exit" within the meaning of the standard's definition of
"confined space" should include consideration of whether, in light of the
hazards posed by the particular space at issue, the configuration or other
characteristics of the space would interfere with an entrant's ability to
escape or be rescued in an emergency situation.
8. Can a space that is initially designed for continuous human
occupancy become a "confined space" because of changes in its use?
If the changes alter the character of the space or if new or more
serious hazards are introduced, those changes require reevaluation of whether
the space is fit for continuous employee occupancy. If the space is not fit
for continuous employee occupancy and the other criteria of the confined
space definition are met, the space should be reclassified as a confined
9. Does the characteristic "contains or has a potential to contain a
hazardous atmosphere" in the definition of "permit-required confined space"
refer only to those atmospheres which pose an acute hazard?
Where employees are exposed to atmospheric or toxic hazards which do
not present an immediate danger of death or disability that would render the
employee unable to escape from the confined space e.g., air contaminants such
as arsenic or asbestos) OSHA's health standards for those hazards apply
rather than 1910.146, and employees must be appropriately protected in
accordance with those health standards. The PRCS standard is intended to
protect entrants against short-term, acute hazards (not exposures at or below
the permissible exposure limits); other standards address a broader range of
health and safety concerns.
As noted in the definition of "hazardous atmosphere"
relating to atmospheric concentration of any substance for which a
dose or permissible exposure limit is published in Subparts "G"
and "Z", any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation,
impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to health
effects is not covered by the PRCS standard.
10. The definition of permit-required confined space contains the
phrase "any other recognized serious safety and health hazard" as one of its
hazard characteristics which would result in a confined space being
classified as a permit space. The "Types of Hazards" listing in the Confined
Space Hazards section of OSHA's Confined Space Entry Course No. 226
identifies hazards. Does the mere presence of a non-specified hazards such
as physical hazards (e.g. grinding, agitators, steam, mulching,
falling/tripping, other moving parts); corrosive chemical hazards; biological
hazards; and other hazards (i.e. electrical, rodents, snakes, spiders, poor
visibility, wind, weather, or insecure footing), which do not pose an
immediate danger to life or health or impairment of an employee's ability to
escape from the space constitute a hazard which would invoke this
When a hazard in a confined space is immediately dangerous to life
or health, the "permit space" classification is triggered. The list
referenced above is only illustrative of the general range of confined space
hazards which could, but not necessarily always, constitute a hazard which
would present an immediate danger to life or health, such that "permit space"
protection would be required. The determination of whether the resulting
exposure to a hazard in a confined space will impair the employee's ability
to perform self-rescue is the aspect that must be addressed by the
In order for "serious safety and health hazard" to be
recognized as being an impairment to escape, its severity potential
for resulting physical harm to an employee must be considered.
11. Does the mere presence of water in a confined space such as a
manhole trigger the application of the PRCS standard in order to work in that
12. If the presence of water alone is not considered a hazard
characteristic which would trigger the classification of a PRCS, what
As previously stated, the mere presence of water alone would not be
a basis for applying the PRCS standard; there must be a quantity sufficient
either to endanger the life of the entrant or to interfere with escape from
the space. Water in combination with other hazards conditions could trigger
the application of the permit space provisions of the PRCS standard. For
example, a small quantity of water (perhaps as much as 2 to 3 inches deep) in
the confined space may not trigger the PRCS classification; however, if the
water conceals trip and fall hazards such as abandoned machine pads or floor
holes and openings, the combination of these conditions may very well cause
the confined space to be classified as a permit space.
SECTION (c) - General Requirements
1. Are employers covered by the PRCS standard in violation of
paragraph (c)(1) of the standard if they have not evaluated their workplace
to determine if any permit-required confined spaces?
Yes. As of the effective date of the standard (April 15, 1993),
employers were required to evaluate their workplace to determine if any
spaces were permit-required confined spaces. Employers who have not
performed the evaluation would be in violation of paragraph (c)(1) unless the
workplace does not and could not contain any confined
2. Can OSHA cite an employer for not documenting the initial
evaluation of the workplace required by paragraph 1910.146(c)(1)?
The evaluation need not be documented. The employer, however, must
be able to explain how the evaluation was conducted and describe the results.
Thus, OSHA's citation will be for failure to evaluate as required by the
standard, rather than for failure to create a record of the
3. Does the initial survey for determining if a confined space is a
permit space, required by paragraph (c)(1), mandate a specific physical
survey of each space?
Not necessarily; the survey requirement may be met through existing
records and knowledge of the space, provided this information is adequate to
make the determination required by the standard. For example, a
telecommunications company may have records which show that the hazards of
all manholes in one section of the region can be addressed by the 1910.268(o)
procedures and that the manholes in another section of the region may contain
toxins due to ground water contamination. Only manholes in the latter
section would need to be surveyed. This same approach can be used for any
industry which has a number of identical spaces and records to support its
4. How will OSHA interpret the language in paragraph 1910.146(c)(2)
requiring employers to inform employees of permit spaces by posting signs or
"by any other equally effective means?"
Ordinarily, information about permit spaces is most effectively and
economically communicated through the use of signs. Consequently, signs
would be the principal method of warning under the standard. Alternative
methods, such as additional training, may be used where they are truly
effective in warning all employees who could reasonably be expected to enter
the space. It is the employer's obligation to assure that an alternative
method is at least as effective as a sign. In some cases, employers may have
to provide training in addition to signs, to protect employees who do not
speak English or who would have difficulty understanding or interpreting
signs. (One method by which OSHA can gauge an employer's effectiveness is
through random interviews of affected employees.)
If a space has locked entry cover or panel, or an access door that
can only be opened with special tools, the use of signs may be unnecessary
if the employer ensures that all affected employees are informed about
such spaces and know that they are not to be opened without taking proper
precautions, including temporary signs, to restrict unexpected or unknowing
5. Upon deciding that no employee will enter a permit space,
1910.146(c)(3) requires that ".... the employer shall take effective measures
to prevent its employees from entering the permit spaces ..." What does OSHA
consider "effective measures"?
These measures could include permanently closing the space and
physical barriers, as well as bolting and locking the space, supplemented by
training employees and posting danger signs. The steps taken by the employer
must be capable of preventing employees from entering permit
6. How will an employer determine a "safe for entry" level for
contaminants under the provisions of paragraph (c)(5)?
OSHA is willing to accept as the minimal "safe for entry" level,
that which is 50% of the flammable or toxic substance that would
constitute a hazardous atmosphere. The two examples footnoted on page 4488
of the preamble to the final rule are:
(1) The LFL for methane is a concentration of 5 percent by
volume. Ten percent of this value is 0.5 percent, a concentration which
would be considered hazardous by definition. Under the guideline the
measured concentration of methane cannot exceed 0.25 percent after
ventilation in order for the procedures specified in paragraph (c)(5)(ii) of
the final rule to be acceptable.
(2) The 8-hour time weighted average PEL for chlorine, under
Table Z-1, is 1.0 parts per million. This concentration of chlorine would be
considered hazardous by the definition of "hazardous atmosphere". Under the
guideline, the measured concentration of chlorine cannot exceed 0.5 parts per
million after ventilation in order for the procedures specified in paragraph
(c)(5)(ii) of the final rule to be acceptable.
Entry under (c)(5) would not be acceptable if hazards in
the space quickly increased if the ventilation were to stop. Sufficient time
must be available for an entrant to safely exit the space if the ventilation
7. What type of documentation will OSHA look for if an employer uses
the alternate procedure of paragraph (c)(5)?
The data must demonstrate that there are no non-atmospheric
hazards and that the ventilation will keep the air inside the permit space
safe for entry. This should include initial data in the form of:
- Volume of the space to be entered;
- Capacity and configuration of the ventilation equipment to be
- Identified atmospheric hazards and potential hazards;
- The sampling results from routine testing of the space from
the time ventilating has begun through final determination of acceptable
entry conditions; and
- Atmospheric hazards created by work in the space.
8. What is meant by the phrase "immediate area where an employee is
or will be present within the space" as used in paragraph
The forced clean air ventilation must be directed to where the
employee is working or will be working. If the space is so configured or so
large that directed air cannot be delivered by local ventilation (such as
fans and blowers), ducting the "clean" air is required.
NOTE: The exhaust discharge of contaminants from the permit space
to areas adjacent to the permit space must not endanger the employees of the
other work areas. Also, the supplied air ventilation for the permit space
must not cause ventilation imbalances which would create hazards in the work
area from which it is taken.
9. How much periodic testing is required?
The frequency of testing depends on the nature of the permit space
and the results of the initial testing performed under paragraph
The requirement in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(F) for periodic testing
as necessary to ensure the space is maintained within the limits of the
acceptable entry conditions is critical. OSHA believes that all permit space
atmospheres are dynamic due to variables such as temperature, pressure,
physical characteristics of the material posing the atmospheric hazard,
variable efficiency of ventilation equipment and air delivery system,
The employer will have to determine and document on an individual
permit space basis what the frequency of testing will be and under what
conditions the verification testing will be done.
10. What are the minimal credentials for the person authorized to
certify the space safe for entry referred to in paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(H).
OSHA would consider as acceptable any employer representative who
possesses a level of knowledge, training, and understanding of the specific
permit space equal to that of an Entry Supervisor.
11. What does OSHA consider to be examples of changes in "use and
configuration" which might increase the hazard to entrants and require
reevaluation and reclassifying non-permit confined spaces under paragraph
Changes in "configuration" address physical changes in the space
such as shape (adding or removal of inwardly converging floor), volume,
equipment or components (addition or removal of a blender), means of access
Changes in "use" include changes in the function of the space, the
contents or atmosphere created within it, the
temperature and humidity, and the work practices being performed or
anticipated in the space.
12. What does the phrase "made available" mean in paragraphs
(c)(5)(ii)(H) and (c)(7)(iii)?
The certificate must be made available to employees entering the
space so they can have the means to evaluate the measures taken for their
protection. This requirement can be satisfied either by providing each
affected employee with a copy of the certificate or by posting the
certificate so that each affected employee is able to inspect it. In
addition, the individual who prepared the certificate must be available to
explain the measures taken to eliminate the hazards if any of the affected
employees are reading-impaired or cannot understand the language in which the
permit is written.
13. What are the employer's responsibilities in multi-employer permit
Coordination between employers who have employees entering a
particular permit space is required by 1910.146(c)(8)(iv), (c)(9)(ii) and
(d)(11). The host employer who arranges for a permit space entry by
contractor employees has a duty to instruct the contractor on the hazards or
potential hazards and other factors that make the space a permit space. The
contractor who will have employees enter the permit space is responsible for
obtaining that information prior to entry. All employers who will have
employees in the permit space are responsible for developing and implementing
procedures to coordinate entry operations (for example, determining
operational control over the space, affected employee training, rescue,
emergency services, and all other aspects of the standard requiring
coordination). Any one of the employers having employees enter the permit
space could have operational control over the permit space during dual entry.
All parties (host employer and contractors) retain responsibility for the
protection of their own employees even though all the employers have agreed
to a specific permit space controlling employer. There should be absolutely
no doubt, by any permit space entrant, attendant, and entry supervisor
regarding who the controlling employer is and whose policy and permit space
practices are to be followed.
14. Does an employer who has permit spaces at his work site and had
initially met its obligation under paragraph (c)(3), have to take additional
measures when a contractor begins to alter a permit space?
Yes, the host employer has a continuing obligation under the
standard to prevent affected employees from entering permit spaces.
Paragraphs (c)(8) and (c)(9) require coordination when both the host and
contractor employees are in or near a permit space during entry operations.
Only affected employees (those working in or who routinely pass through the
work area) are required to be informed.
15. What information about the present or previous contents of the
permit space must be provided to the contractor before its employees
At a minimum, the applicable Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or
hazard information on the contents, coatings or liners, potential hazardous
atmospheres, sampling data base, and residue(s) found or anticipated in the
permit space. All information generated in the original evaluation of the
permit space must also be provided.
16. Are simple alarm devices considered to be the "direct reading
instruments" referenced in paragraph (c)(5).
No, simple "alarm only" devices which do not provide readings, are
not considered acceptable direct reading instruments, for either initial
(pre-entry) or periodic (assurance) testing of a "(c)(5)" space since they do
not provide enough information relative to the established acceptable entry
conditions which is essential to the entrants knowledge. Combination units
which have a meter or display which reflect the actual concentrations and a
preset alarm feature would be acceptable and possibly desirable because they
provide "real time" information on actual concentrations as well as the
benefit of automatic (unattended) alarming at a predetermined
17. What does OSHA accept as a "calibrated" direct reading instrument
required by paragraph (c)(5)(ii)(C) for entrants to test the atmosphere for
permit space entry?
A testing instrument calibrated in accordance with the
manufacturer's recommendations meets this requirement. The best way for an
employer to verify calibration is through documentation.
18. Are the examples explaining physical hazards and their
relationship to paragraph (c)(7) in the preamble at 58 Fed. Reg. 4490-4491
and note 15 of instances in which hazards will be deemed eliminated from
permit-required confined spaces by compliance with 29 CFR 1910.147 and
No. The principle embodied in the preamble that hazards will be
deemed removed from permit-required confined spaces by compliance with
existing standards, applies to any standard that eliminates the
19. How long can a space reclassified using the procedures of
paragraph (c)(7) remain a non-permit confined space?
Once a space has been reclassified as a non-PRCS, it remains
reclassified as long as all hazards remain eliminated. The basis for
determining that all the hazards have been eliminated and thus can be
reclassified must be documented. The documentation required must be kept
until entry operations have been completed.
SECTION (d)- Permit Space Entry Program
1. Continuous monitoring is required by 1910.146(d)(5)(i) in the
areas where the authorized entrants will be working when the employer allows
entry without pre-entry determination of acceptable entry conditions for
spaces and where isolation is infeasible because the space is large or part
of a continuous system such as a sewer system. Does each entrant have to be
monitored individually or can an area monitor be used?
An area monitor could be used where small groups (two or three
employees) work together in close proximity as long as the monitor can
measure hazards encountered by the employees. However, all the entrants must
remain together as a group for the entire entry procedure.
2. What does testing or monitoring "as necessary" mean as required by
1910.146(d)(5)(ii) to decide if the acceptable entry conditions are being
The standard does not have specific frequency rates because of the
performance oriented nature of the standard and the unique hazards of each
permit space. However, there will always be, to some degree, testing or
monitoring during entry operations which is reflective of the atmospheric
hazard. The employer must determine the degree and the frequency of testing
or monitoring. Some of the factors that affect frequency are:
- Results of test allowing entry.
- The regularity of entry (daily, weekly, or monthly).
- The uniformity of the permit space (the extent to which the
configuration, use, and contents vary).
- The documented history of previous monitoring
- Knowledge of the hazards which affect the permit space as
well as the historical experience gained from monitoring results of previous
Knowledge and recorded data gained from successive entries (such as
ventilation required to maintain acceptable entry conditions) may be used to
document changes in the frequency of monitoring.
3. Are the results of the air sampling and exposure monitoring
required by this standard considered exposure records for purposed of 29
C.F.R. 1910.20 (c)(5) OSHA's Record Access rule?
Those results which show the composition of an atmosphere to which
an employee is actually exposed (even if the employee is using a respirator)
are exposure records under 29 C.F.R. 1910.20(c)(5). Conversely, if the
employer determines as the result of initial air sampling not to allow entry
into a confined space until additional ventilation and purging of the
atmosphere has occurred, the sample would not be considered as exposure
record because no employee would ever have been exposed to the atmosphere
sampled. Once the employer takes corrective action so that an employee can
enter, however, the results of subsequent air sampling that show the
atmosphere the employee actually entered would be considered exposure
SECTION (h) Duties of Authorized Entrants
1. Can an employee be both an Entry Supervisor and Authorized Entrant
for an entry?
The standard allows an employee to be both an entry supervisor and
entrant as long as the employee has had the appropriate training and the
duties of one activity do not conflict with the duties of the
SECTION (i) Duties of Attendants
1. When a single attendant is monitoring more than one permit space,
is there a limit on how far the attendant can be from any of the spaces
The bench mark for monitoring multiple permit spaces by a single
attendant is his/her ability to perform all their (attendant) duties
without compromising the safety of any entrants in all the
permit spaces being monitored by the attendant. There is no minimum
SECTION (j) - Duties of Entry Supervisor(s)
1. Does an employer have to verify the availability of the off-site
rescue service each time a permit space entry is scheduled or attempted?
Yes, the employer has overall responsibility for employee safety.
If the off-site rescue service indicates, for any reason, that it would be
unable to respond to a rescue summons, entry shall not be authorized unless
an adequate alternative rescue service is arranged.
SECTION (k)- Rescue Service
1. Does an off-site rescue service have to have a permit space
No, a complete program is not necessary; however, rescue plans and
procedures are necessary. Rescue services (on-site and off-site) are
required by paragraph (k) to have members who are trained, equipped, and
practiced for safe entry into the particular permit spaces from which they
will be expected to rescue entrants.
2. What is OSHA policy on "horizontal" non-entry rescue?
When practical, non-entry rescue is required by paragraph (k)(3) of
the standard and is the preferred method of rescue, even for horizontal
entries. OSHA recognizes that the danger of entanglement due to lifelines or
lanyards snagging or obstructions within a permit space may be greater for
horizontal permit spaces than for vertical spaces.
3. Would a rescuer entering an Immediately Dangerous to Life and
Health (IDLH) atmosphere using a supplied-air respirator in combination with
SCBA (escape bottle), be in violation of OSHA regulations
Yes, however, under the conditions addressed below, the violation
can be considered as de minimis.
The PRCS standard because of its performance nature does not specify
the personal protective or rescue equipment necessary for rescue. The OSHA
standard for respiratory protection is 1910.134. Currently paragraph
1910.134(e)(3)(iii) requires, when an IDLH atmosphere exists, .... A standby
man or men with suitable self-contained breathing apparatus shall be at the
nearest fresh air base for emergency rescue.
The 1910.134 standard published in the June 27, 1974 issue of the
Federal Register was derived from a now out-of-date voluntary standard
(ANSI consensus standard Z88.2-1969). The most recent (1992) version of this
same ANSI standard for respiratory protection for working in IDLH conditions
has been changed. The new change specifies either a SCBA or a combination
supplied-air respirator with SCBA for IDLH conditions.
It is OSHA policy to accept compliance with a provision in a current
national consensus standard (ANSI) which provides an equivalent or greater
level of protection from the hazards.
A rescue service can employ the use of supplied-air respirators in
combination with self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) when conducting
rescue operations. If a rescue service employer chooses to use combination
supplied-air respirator with SCBA over the SCBA specified in the respiratory
protection standard 1910.134(e)(3)(iii), for permit-required confined space
rescue, the violation will be considered as de minimis as long as the
following minimum conditions are also employed:
1. An evaluation of the permit space to be entered has been done
to determine which appropriate respiratory protection (SCBA or Supplied-air
with SCBA) is best suited for the rescue.
2. The rescuer's respirators and air source meet the
requirements of the 1910.134 standard.
3. The air source for the rescuer's respiratory protection is
independent from that which is being used by the authorized
We also would recommend the following policies and work practices for the
rescue services which choose the supplied-air respirators with SCBA option:
a. Establish a policy requiring immediate withdrawal from the space
whenever a respiratory protection problem develops.
b. Establish a policy for use and training on emergency air line
sharing "buddy breathing".
c. Ensure that the rescuers wear full body harness and use life
lines whenever practical.
d. Establish a policy requiring a minimum capacity of the source air
to be twice (2X) the volume of the total needs of all rescuers connected to
it for the anticipated duration of the rescuer's entry.
e. Establish a policy which mandates a minimum team of two rescuers
for all permit space rescue entries.
OSHA's settlement agreement with the Edison Electrical Institute,
Tampa Electric Company, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., Florida
Power and Light Company and Florida Power Corporation, agreed to include the
March 12, 1993 letter to Mr. Stephen C. Yohay into this
This appendix is the vehicle by which this letter is included. The
terms of the settlement agreement also amended the last sentence of paragraph
D.2. of this letter to read as follows:
The survey requirements can be met through existing records
and knowledge of the spaces, provided this information is adequate to make
the determinations required by the Standard.
1. The original letter has not been modified and that pen and
ink changes with regard to the amended sentence in paragraph D.2. will have
to be accomplished by the reader.
2. This letter deals specifically with the proposed rule and not
the final. Some of the comments and policy positions may change as a result
of the publication of the final rule on power generation, transmission and
March 12, 1993
Mr. Stephen C. Yohay McDermott, Will and Emery 1850 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-2296
Dear Mr. Yohay:
This is in response to your letter of February 18 regarding concerns of the
members of the Edison Electric Institute about OSHA's Permit Required
Confined Space standard, 29 CFR 1910.146 (confined spaces or PRCS standard).
It also summarizes the extended discussion between you and your clients and
OSHA and Solicitor of Labor staff on February 22, at which occasion your
letter served as an agenda.
First, I will summarize the major, general points made at the meeting, and
then will address the specific questions in your letter.
1. The Permit Required Confined Space standard covers electric
power generation, transmission and distribution facilities and will continue
to do so with respect to those spaces and situations which are not explicitly
addressed in the forthcoming specific standard for the power generation
industry, 29 CFR 1910.269 Electric Power Generation, Transmission and
Distribution (the "power generation standard").
2. The power generation standard was published as a proposal in
1989. It was, as your colleague, Mr. Platt, notes in correspondence to the
Secretary, based on electric utility industry and union inputs, among other
sources. When it becomes a final standard, it will resolve many of the
significant problems the industry has in complying with the general industry
confined space standard.
3. OSHA accepts compliance with the proposed power
generation standard, in the spaces and situations where it will apply, as
equivalent to compliance with the confined space standard. That is to say,
OSHA will neither issue citations nor propose penalties where the employer
has appropriately carried out the requirements of the proposed power
generation standard. This policy is consistent with long-standing agency
practice; specific procedures are spelled out in the OSHA Field Operations
Manual (CPL 2.45B et seq.) whereby compliance with proposed standards in lieu
of existing applicable standards is treated as a de minimis violation
of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, carrying no penalties and
resulting in no citations, as long as this practice affords equivalent
protection to employees.
EEI's Questions and Concerns
A. "General Concerns". As indicated above, OSHA recognizes that the
proposed power generation standard represents significant consensus by the
electric utility industry and unions, and that it reflects practices already
being implemented in that industry. We agree that the final standard, which
we expect to be substantially similar to the proposal, will eliminate many of
the specific problems raised in your letter.
B. Regarding the Need for a "Vertical Standard for Electric Utilities."
As indicated above, OSHA agrees that a standard is necessary for electric
power generation, transmission, and distribution work and is moving toward
its promulgation as rapidly as resources and good workmanship allow. The
Agency recognizes that there are problems associated with performing similar
types of work under differing construction and general industry standards.
Should ambiguities remain, they will be addressed through interpretation of
existing standards and through guidance to OSHA's enforcement staff through
compliance directives. It is presently the intention of the Agency to
propose a revision of Subpart V of the Construction Standards after final
1910.269 is published.
C. Urging that "Electric Utilities...be excluded from the PRCS for the
same reasons that shipyards were excluded." As noted in the general comments
above, promulgation of an electric power generation, transmission, and
distribution standard will address the electric utilities concerns and will
treat them "equally" with shipyards. Note that, like the shipyards, they
will not be required to implement the PRCS standard only to have to comply
with a new and vastly different vertical standard after a short time. For
all practical purposes, the electric utilities industry is protected from any
"whip-saw effect" by simply complying with the proposed power generation
standard where it applies and with the PRCS standard where the proposal does
D. Regarding the Effect of PRCS on Operations and Customer Service.
1. Definition of permit required confined space. As indicated
in our discussion, energized equipment will not trigger permit entry
requirements if it is insulated, or enclosed. Where electric equipment is
insulated or enclosed and where there are no atmospheric or other hazards
which, in their own right, would trigger PRCS requirements, no permit is
Additionally, where employees are exposed to atmospheric or
other toxic hazards which do not present an immediate danger of death or
disability that would render the employee unable to escape from the confined
space (e.g., air contaminants such as arsenic or asbestos), OSHA's health
standards for those hazards apply rather than 1910.146, and employees must be
appropriately protected in accordance with those health standards. The PRCS
standard is intended to protect employees against specific short-term, acute
hazards (not exposures at or below the permissible exposure limits); other
standards address a broader range of health and safety
2. Initial Survey of Facilities. We agreed that the tens of
thousands of manholes owned by the utilities need not be physically
surveyed to determine whether they are permit required confined spaces. The
survey requirement can be met through existing records and knowledge of the
3. Definition of Entry. While the standard defines the process
of "entry" into a confined space as beginning with the insertion of any part
of the body into that space, it defines as confined spaces only those areas
that can contain the whole body, and not cabinets or control panels which are
accessed by simply reaching in to turn a valve or a switch. This is stated
explicitly in the preamble to the final rule (page 4477 column 2 of the final
4. Definition of Hazardous Atmosphere. We agreed that the term
"lower flammable limit" is synonymous with the older term "lower explosive
limit". The utilities are free to use either term in their PRCS programs.
Regarding flammable dusts in confined space, it will be OSHA policy to sample
and to analyze such dusts for combustibility, prior to issuing citations,
whenever there is doubt as to the nature and extent of the dust hazard. Note
that existing permissible exposure limits for nuisance dusts and other
standards continue to apply. The note in the final standard (at the
definition of "hazardous atmosphere") provides additional guidance on this
5. "Declassification" of permit required spaces. As discussed
on February 22, the standard provides simple criteria for classifying and
re-classifying spaces. Once a space has been reclassified as a non-PRCS, it
remains reclassified as long as all hazards remain eliminated. The basis for
classification must be documented. With regard to the documentation required
by paragraph (c)(5), it must be kept until the job is completed and there
will be no further entry of the space in question. (Refer to 29 CFR
1910.146, paragraphs (c)(5) and (c)(7))
6. Attendants. Attendants may conduct rescue from outside the
confined space, using (for example) harnesses and lanyards. The attendant,
for obvious reasons, may not enter the space to perform a rescue unless he or
she is properly relieved by another employee who is properly qualified to
assume attendant responsibilities. This precaution, with other safeguards,
will prevent the possible injury or death of the rescuer. The proposed power
generation standard under 1910.269(e)(5) requires stationing of an attendant
trained in basic first aid at an enclosed space, under certain circumstances,
to provide emergency assistance. This proposed language reflects OSHA's
intent to have attendants help enclosed space entrants outside the spaces
(i.e., providing first aid), rather than to have attendants enter spaces to
rescue entrants. In addition, 1910.269(t)(3)(ii), cited in your letter,
provides that an attendant may enter a manhole for inspection, housekeeping,
taking readings, or similar work, if such work can be performed safely. A
third person to act as relief for the attendant is not required. An
attendant who is properly trained and equipped may conduct non-entry rescue.
Neither the PRCS standard nor proposed 1910.269(e)(5) permits attendants to
enter permit spaces to rescue entrants, unless the "attendant" has been
properly trained, equipped, and relieved. (An attendant required under
1910.269(t)(3) would be permitted to enter the space for rescue purposes, as
long as it is safe to do so.)
7. Rescue. The confined space standard and the proposed power
generation standard differ as to their requirements for retrieval lines,
harnesses, etc. Compliance with the proposed power generation standard when
working in manholes and other covered locations will avoid the problems
enumerated in your letter. Note that retrieval lines are not required
in all cases -- if the employer can demonstrate that retrieval lines are not
feasible (are a greater hazard or would not contribute to rescue of an
entrant), they are not required. If retrieval lines are not required, then
tripods or other mechanical retrieval devices are also not
8. Administrative Burdens and Paperwork. The documentation
requirements of the confined space standard were carefully reviewed during
the promulgation process, including a thorough regulatory analysis of
paperwork burdens and other costs. We found that the burdens imposed by the
standard were justified and cost-effective.
E. Coverage of Electric Utilities in 1910.146. The proposed power
generation standard does cover manhole entry and other similar
industry-specific tasks; until it is promulgated, electric utility employers
have the option of complying with the more general 1910.146 standard, or with
the industry-specific 1910.269 proposed standard, as long as the serious
hazards are addressed by compliance with the chosen standard.
With respect to electric utility work in manholes and vaults, for
example, OSHA would apply 1910.146 only in the event that procedures taken
under proposed 1910.269(e) and (t) do not adequately protect employees. As
an illustration, the Agency would apply 1910.146 to work in a manhole where a
water hazard that could not be eliminated from outside the space and that
would pose a life-threatening hazard to an entrant is present. The presence
of water alone would not be a basis for applying the PRCS standard; there
must be a quantity sufficient either to endanger the life of the entrant or
to interfere with escape from the space. In such cases, the provisions
proposed in 1910.269 would not address the hazards involved.
When our meeting ended, we indicated that we would summarize our oral
responses, in writing, as a reply to your letter of February 18; you
indicated that you would send an additional letter, requesting further
clarification on specific points. In a later conversation with Ray Donnelly
(General Industry Compliance Assistance), you indicated that no additional
letter would be sent at this time.
If you have questions or additional comments about any of the foregoing, we
will welcome them.
H. Berrien Zettler Deputy Director Compliance Programs