Confined Space Safety Tips

Confined Space Safety Tips

Confined spaces can be one of the most dangerous places to be in a work environment. Confined spaces are not designed for continuous human occupancy due to the nature of their function and chemicals often used in the area. While most confined spaces are large enough for individual workers to enter and perform certain job functions, restricted means of entry and movement pose numerous safety problems to un-trained individuals.

Examples of a Confined Space

A few examples of confined spaces can include pipelines, duct work, equipment housings, access shafts, tunnels, pipes, storage bins, tanks, sewers, chimneys, fuel tanks, vessels, manure pits, vats, silos, hoppers, aircraft wings, truck and rail tank cars, and chemical plants. Due to the work being done, atmospheric hazards may be present due to the locations, contents, or construction means or materials. Continuous human occupancy is not what confined spaces are designed for; rather, regular maintenance is required but should be exercised with extreme caution. Workers can sustain serious physical and chemical injury or even death if proper precautions are not taken.

Working in a Confined Space

confined space safety tipsAvoiding all injury and possible negative outcomes should be the goal of every team and project manager that works near a confined space. All steps during this safety process should be taken with equal importance; this includes permitting, designating the confined space, atmospheric monitoring, proper safety equipment, and more. Here are a few tips for any worker that is entering a confined space:

• Maintain contact with the worker inside the confined space at all times. The worker inside the confined space should have access to immediate contact with another member of the team whenever they are performing work in the space.
• Check for atmospheric contaminants and other hazardous elements in the environment. This can include toxic gases, chemicals, and unsafe levels of dust and air contaminants. All necessary checks should be completed before anyone enters the confined space. Many toxic gases cannot be detected via smell, which is why it is important to get the proper instrumentation required to measure levels of dangerous gases.
• Make sure that the environment has proper ventilation or forced ventilation. Displacing gases and contaminants in a confined environment is an essential piece of the puzzle, so equipment like ventilation systems may be necessary.
• Personal protective equipment – which can include HAZMAT suits, protective gear, fire pants, air filters, Kevlar gloves, etc. – is highly dependent on the given situation; figure out what possible hazards may be present, then plan accordingly.
• Make sure there is a proper rescue protocol in place. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst; the right equipment and personnel are necessary in the event of an emergency situation, so your team should always be prepared for a rescue situation.
• Proper lighting in a confined space is essential, as almost all confined spaces will lack natural light. The person operating in the confined space should be able to do their job comfortably without fear of bodily injury or harm due to a lack of visibility.
• Use a management service such as Safety Sense, that allows for the storage of work place hazard information, work-related permits such as confined spaces, and confined space entry pre-plans and rescue procedures.

Common Safety Hazards in the Workplace

Common Safety Hazards in the Workplace

In the modern workplace, there are many hazards that workers are exposed to on a daily basis. This is why following safety protocols are vitally important to the success and safety of your business. Knowing the most common hazards and educating your employees can help protect them from a bad day on the job.

Electrical Hazards

When performing hot work, your workers will often be exposed to high currents and electricity. Make sure that all exposed wires and cable are out of reach, labeled, and protected. There should not be open wires with current if it is not necessary. Eliminating the risk of electrocution is a mandatory step in any safety protocol. Never overload an outlet, only use approved equipment, do not use electrical equipment or appliances near water or wet surfaces, and inspect cords and equipment regularly. You should also not run electrical cords through public/pedestrian areas unless there is proper signage. The last thing you want is a slip-and-fall lawsuit due to improper precautionary measures.

Chemical Hazards

When using dangerous solutions or chemicals, there are a few measures that employees need to take. If working with a chemical that has hazardous fumes, proper air flow and ventilation should be a priority. A standard operating procedure (SOP) should address the safe use and handling, proper disposal, and proper equipment required to perform a work function safely. SDS sheets for chemicals are also extremely important. Everything in a chemical storeroom should be properly secured and labeled to prevent spills and confusion.


With any type of hot-work or electrical work, your employees should be trained on the protocol in the event that a fire breaks out. Knowing what to do in case of a fire can be the difference between life and death. Evacuation plans, prevention, and the location of fire extinguishers should be well-known information among all of your employees.
grinder and powertools

Confined Spaces

Lock out and tag out procedures are incredibly important and can save lives. Assessing a confined space and determining the proper safety protocol is necessary. Many of these spaces are not designed for prolonged periods of human interaction and can include vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, tanks, and vessels. A confined space, as defined by OSHA, can include: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains 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.

Work Permit Data Solution

The SafetySense Management System is a user friendly, secure, easy-to-use cloud-based application which allows for the client and their contractors to have access to work permit data without compromising data integrity. Let SafetySense Management work for you in handling the job of training records management, data repository for: Lockout/Tagout, SDS, Rescue Pre-plans, Permit Issuance / Archiving Work related permits (CS, hot-work, LOTO), Work place hazards (atmospheric, trips & falls), Atmospheric monitoring data repository and much, much more.

Hot Work Permit

Hot Work Permit

Being safe on the job is the most important aspect of work if you are operating under hazardous conditions. Neither you or any of your coworkers deserve to be hurt due to negligence or improper planning. Not only are permits and documentation important to ensure that potential risk exposures are accounted for, knowing the intended purpose of hot work permits is equally as important. Hot work permits are intended to assess fire risks related to hot work on a job site. After the risks are accounted for, it is up to you to take appropriate action to mitigate any possible risks and to document them properly. Understanding how to properly mitigate risk is just as important as having the permit in place. Discussing the importance of hot work permits with your workers is vital if you wish to operate a safe business.

What is Hot Work?

‘Hot Work’ can include torch cutting, thermal spraying, thermite welding, thawing pipes, brazing and grinding. Hot work can generate excessive amounts of heat, hot slag and sparks that can ignite combustible and flammable materials that are not properly protected. There are many environmental factors that can cause hazards as well. From crawl spaces, wall assemblies, concealed areas and substructure spaces, many variables are at play when hot work is being performed. According to an Iowa State University’s Hot Work Permit Program Manual, the U.S. averages around 13,000 hot work fires, $309 million in property damage and over 31 deaths per year.

constructionAlternatives to Hot Work

Mitigating or eliminating risk hazards that can result in the harm or death of you and/or your team members should be of the utmost importance. Simplifying the process of permitting and data collection will naturally make it easier to comply with OSHA safety standards. We can simplify your permitting process and provide a consistent, organized source of data that can help you keep track of work permits and the employees that are trained to do the work intended. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) makes the following recommendations based on their investigations of hot work fires:

  1. Proper training: This is incredibly important. Training your employees and documenting their training efficiently will let you know quickly and easily who can do the job and who cannot. There are many job-specific hazards, such as proper use and calibration of combustible gas detectors and safety equipment that need to be performed perfectly.
  2. Use Permits: This should go without saying. Ensure that your qualified personnel are very familiar with specific job site hazards. Only authorize work after all permits have been written and logged and all necessary precautions have been put in place.
  3. Monitor the atmosphere: Always use a properly calibrated combustible gas detector prior to and during hot work activities. Even if a flammable atmosphere is not anticipated, effective gas monitoring in the work area saves lives.
  4. Are there alternatives? Whenever possible, look for the safest option. If you can use a pro-press or a water-jet to complete a job, reconsider your use of excessive hot work.
  5. Test the area and analyze the hazards: if a work area has previously stored flammable liquids and gases, the surrounding area and equipment must be purged of these substances. If you or a coworker are welding on or in the vicinity of storage tanks, be sure to properly test all surrounding areas. Continuously monitor these areas as the work is being performed. Understanding the scope of the hot work, notifying employees, filling out the required documentation and providing a safe work environment will go a long way in the eyes of your employees and cohorts.


Hot Work Permitting

At SafetySense, we provide OSHA-compliant software that delivers easy-to-use information on your permitting and employees. Building information, descriptions, photos of confined spaces and hot work permits are just a few pieces of information that SafetySense can store. SafetySense provides instant access to a variety of confined space data for multi-facility organization. Just to give you a quick overview, users will have the option of printing and posting the permit from the database prior to the entry. This allows for the end user to comply with the OSHA standard. The Attendant will still have the ability to complete the Attendant worksheet electronically and then upload the document once the permit has been terminated. The hot work procedure/pre-plan is uploaded and stored in the database. The user will access this document in the “Associated Procedures” tab, print and post along with the permit at the point of job site. Lockout / Tagout documents can be uploaded to and printed from the SafetySense Management System Database for quick access by the end user when issuing confined space entry permits or hot work permits. This makes the entire process safer and easier for everyone involved! If you have any questions about hot work permits or our software, call us today!

Getting to Know Confined Space Terms

Getting to Know Confined Space Terms

SafetySense is a user-friendly, cloud-based application that allows contractors to have easy access to work permit data. Without compromising data integrity, you can have all of your important documents in one place, without storing data on individual PCs or Macs. Some of the services include training records management, data repositories, workplace hazards, atmospheric monitoring data, permit issuance, archiving work and more.  This cloud-based software was created by safety professionals – not coders with zero work/safety experience – to help track changes or revisions to permit work history tied to their confined spaces. With SafetySense, we have noticed a decrease in illegible safety permits, a decrease in ambiguity regarding safety hazards, and an easier, streamlined process with permitting and records management. While we have a smaller list of key terms on our about us page, we have compiled a list from the OSHA to help refresh your knowledge on confined space terms:

Acceptable entry conditions: the conditions that must exist in a permit space to allow entry and to ensure that employees involved with a permit-required confined space entry can safely enter into and work within the space.

Attendant: an individual stationed outside one or more permit spaces who monitors the authorized entrants and who performs all attendant’s duties assigned in the employer’s permit space program.

Authorized entrant: means an employee who is authorized by the employer to enter a permit space.

Blanking or blinding: the absolute closure of a pipe, line, or duct by the fastening of a solid plate (such as a spectacle blind or a skillet blind) that completely covers the bore and that is capable of withstanding the maximum pressure of the pipe, line, or duct with no leakage beyond the plate.

Confined spaceconstruction workers

A confined space is a space that:

(1) Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work; and

(2) Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.); and

(3) Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Double block and bleed: the closure of a line, duct, or pipe by closing and locking or tagging two in-line valves and by opening and locking or tagging a drain or vent valve in the line between the two closed valves.

Emergency: any occurrence (including any failure of hazard control or monitoring equipment) or event internal or external to the permit space that could endanger entrants.

Engulfment: the surrounding and effective capture of a person by a liquid or finely divided (flowable) solid substance that can be aspirated to cause death by filling or plugging the respiratory system or that can exert enough force on the body to cause death by strangulation, constriction, or crushing.

Entry: the action by which a person passes through an opening into a permit-required confined space. Entry includes ensuing work activities in that space and is considered to have occurred as soon as any part of the entrant’s body breaks the plane of an opening into the space.

Entry permit: means the written or printed document that is provided by the employer to allow and control entry into a permit space.

Entry supervisor: the person (such as the employer, foreman, or crew chief) responsible for determining if acceptable entry conditions are present at a permit space where entry is planned, for authorizing entry and overseeing entry operations, and for terminating entry as required by this section. An entry supervisor may also serve as the entrant.

Hazardous atmosphere: an atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue (that is, escape unaided from a permit space), injury, or acute illness from one or more of the following causes:

(1) Flammable gas, vapor, or mist in excess of 10 percent of its lower flammable limit (LFL);

(2) Airborne combustible dust at a concentration that meets or exceeds its LFL;

NOTE: This concentration may be approximated as a condition in which the dust obscures vision at a distance of 5 feet (1.52 m) or less.

(3) Atmospheric oxygen concentration below 19.5 percent or above 23.5 percent;

(4) Atmospheric concentration of any substance for which a dose or a permissible exposure limit is published in Subpart G, Occupational Health and Environmental Control, or in Subpart Z, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, of this Part and which could result in employee exposure in excess of its dose or permissible exposure limit;

NOTE: An atmospheric concentration of any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to its health effects is not covered by this provision.

(5) Any other atmospheric condition that is immediately dangerous to life or health.

Hot work permit: the employer’s written authorization to perform operations (for example, riveting, welding, cutting, burning, and heating) capable of providing a source of ignition.

Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH): any condition that poses an immediate or delayed threat to life or that would cause irreversible adverse health effects or that would interfere with an individual’s ability to escape unaided from a permit space.


NOTE: Some materials — hydrogen fluoride gas and cadmium vapor, for example — may produce immediate transient effects that, even if severe, may pass without medical attention, but are followed by sudden, possibly fatal collapse 12-72 hours after exposure. The victim “feels normal” from recovery from transient effects until collapse. Such materials in hazardous quantities are considered to be “immediately” dangerous to life or health.

Inerting: the displacement of the atmosphere in a permit space by a noncombustible gas (such as nitrogen) to such an extent that the resulting atmosphere is noncombustible.

NOTE: This procedure produces an IDLH oxygen-deficient atmosphere.

Isolation: the process by which a permit space is removed from service and completely protected against the release of energy and material into the space by such means as: blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines, pipes, or ducts; a double block and bleed system; lockout or tagout of all sources of energy; or blocking or disconnecting all mechanical linkages.

Line breaking: the intentional opening of a pipe, line, or duct that is or has been carrying flammable, corrosive, or toxic material, an inert gas, or any fluid at a volume, pressure, or temperature capable of causing injury.

Non-permit confined space: a confined space that does not contain or, with respect to atmospheric hazards, have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.

Oxygen deficient atmosphere: an atmosphere containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen by volume.

Oxygen enriched atmosphere: an atmosphere containing more than 23.5 percent oxygen by volume.

Permit-required confined space (permit space): a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:

(1) Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;

(2) Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant;

(3) Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or

(4) Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.

Permit-required confined space program (permit space program): the employer’s overall program for controlling, and, where appropriate, for protecting employees from, permit space hazards and for regulating employee entry into permit spaces.

Permit system: the employer’s written procedure for preparing and issuing permits for entry and for returning the permit space to service following termination of entry.

Prohibited condition: means any condition in a permit space that is not allowed by the permit during the period when entry is authorized.

Rescue service: means the personnel designated to rescue employees from permit spaces.

Retrieval system: the equipment (including a retrieval line, chest or full-body harness, wristlets, if appropriate, and a lifting device or anchor) used for non-entry rescue of persons from permit spaces.

Testing: the process by which the hazards that may confront entrants of a permit space are identified and evaluated. Testing includes specifying the tests that are to be performed in the permit space. Testing enables employers both to devise and implement adequate control measures for the protection of authorized entrants and to determine if acceptable entry conditions are present immediately prior to, and during, entry.

SafetySense Management System

We support work in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and commercial construction sectors, as well as many other industries. Our management software is being utilized by public utilities, airports, hospitals, power generation, government entities and more. If your business has a confined space, then we can definitely help streamline your permitting, management and training needs. If you have any questions about some of these terms, or would like to schedule an appointment or speak with a representative, don’t hesitate to contact us!