As they say, “Safety is the cheapest and most effective insurance policy.” Because I kinda like you—and want you to stick around—I’ll flog the safety topic once more.
This time, we’ll talk about staying safe when working in confined spaces. If you’re claustrophobic, avert your eyes.
Confined Spaces Defined
How do we define “confined” in a work context? According to this article from EC&M, a confined space is any space large enough to squeeze into and perform work, and:
- With limited or narrow entries and exits
- Not designed for continuous occupancy
- One where you might be exposed to hazards upon entry
OSHA describes a “permit-required confined space” (PRCS) as one that:
- Has or could contain a hazardous atmosphere that could compromise air or oxygen quality. Think chemical exposure, dust, and biological hazards.
- Contains a material that could “engulf” the entrant.
- Consists of walls or floors that slope inwards or down. Basically, anything that could taper into a smaller area and trap an unsuspecting worker.
- Challenges safety standards in some other way, such as exposed wires, heat stress, or unguarded machinery
Dodging Hazards, Like A Boss
Tips for working safely in a confined space:
- Get a permit, if you need it (see above)
- If you sub-contract someone to do the work, ask for their training records. Is their knowledge up to snuff? Can they handle the job safely?
- Decide who can enter the confined space. If you don’t want just anyone on your team entering the space, lock it and put a sign on it. And don’t forget to tell your crew.
- Sit down with team members and brainstorm the hazards that exist, then develop a safety plan.
- Document the hazards present, and how to control them. Then get all the protective equipment you’ll need.
- Each worker must post the completed permit outside the PRCS space for everyone to clearly read.
If you’d like a few more tips on safety and OSHA requirements for working in confined spaces, read this EC&M article.
Data Cable Installers, Listen Up
- Protection from falling, or from falling objects
- Availability of first aid assistance when safety hazards are present
- Testing the atmosphere of manholes and unvented vaults prior to entry, including proper ventilation where atmospheric hazards are present
Over To You
About The Author
Todd Reed, National Market Manager
Husband to a professionally licensed architectural engineer and lighting designer (a.k.a. Lisa J. Reed) and son-in-law to an electrician, Todd knows the importance of efficiency, safety, and productivity for electrical contractors. Todd is a seasoned professional, with 5 years’ experience within a family-owned distribution business and 10 years as a Graybar employee. As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.
Sources & Credits
EC&M: Confined Spaces Simplified
OSHA: Confined Spaces
Cabling Installing & Maintenance: OSHA regulation specifically covers telecommunications spaces