A confined space is defined in OSHA’s construction standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA as meeting the following criteria:
- The space is large enough for a worker to enter it
- The space has limited or restricted means of entry or exit
- The space is not designed for continuous occupancy
Working with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), OSHA has released a new Confined Space FactSheet to answer some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and “clarify some of the standard’s provisions and their application to residential construction work,” according to the document.
One of the major distinctions explained in the new publication is the difference of a confined space and a permit-required confined space. Before beginning a residential homebuilding project, all involved employers “must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit-required confined space.”
Permit-required confined spaces are those that can be immediately dangerous to workers’ lives, and possess the following characteristics:
- Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
- Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant
- 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
- Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard
In the “Confined Spaces in Residential Construction” publication, OSHA and NAHB agree that the vast majority of the confined space standard’s requirements “only apply to permit-required confined spaces, and attics, basements, and crawl spaces in a residential home–three common spaces–will not typically trigger these requirements.”
But “vast majority” does not mean “all,” which is why it is important that employers working on residential homebuilding projects understand the standard’s definition, scope, and application so as best to comply with federal regulations and ensure worker safety.
The safety experts at SCT have decades of experience working for OSHA, national utility providers, glass manufacturers, and other industries that frequently encounter the potential for confined spaces. SCT Director of Construction Services Dennis Hobart has more than two decades of safety experience training thousands of employees on trenching and excavation and confined space hazards.
Mr. Hobart is also the principle trainer on SCT’s mobile fall protection and confined space training simulator, a 32-foot vehicle outfitted with all the necessary equipment and materials needed to conduct beneficial hands-on, practical training. Contact Mr. Hobart today by calling SCT at 1-800-204-1729 to discuss scheduling an updated training! Watch the video below for a look inside of our simulator.