Confined Spaces

A confined space is any space that is large enough for an employee to enter, has a restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Examples of confined spaces include tanks, pits, certain tunnels, utility vaults, and boilers. The physical and atmospheric hazards often associated with confined spaces can cause serious injury or death to workers.

A comprehensive confined space entry program is required in order to ensure the safety of employees who must enter and work in confined spaces. Departments must conduct a survey of their workplace to determine if any confined spaces exist. As part of the survey, confined spaces must be evaluated to determine if any physical or atmospheric hazards are associated with them. Assistance in confined space identification and evaluation is available through Enterprise Risk Management. Spaces may be classified as one of three types:

  • Non-Permit Spaces: These are confined spaces in which there are no additional hazards present in the space
  • Alternate Procedure Confined Spaces: These are confined spaces whose only hazards are atmospheric and where the hazard can be abated prior to entry. The SUU Confined Space Written program has these defined as Non-permit spaces so long as proper abatement procedures take place prior to entry.
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS): These are spaces where physical or atmospheric hazards are present and cannot be abated prior to entry. Extensive entry procedures are required to enter PRCSs.

Departments whose workers are expected to enter confined spaces must implement the campus written program that outlines procedures to be used for safe entry. These procedures are incorporated into a written entry permit. Assistance in implementing the written confined space entry program is available through Enterprise Risk Management. A Confined Space Entry Permit must be completed for all entries into permit-required confined spaces. Safe confined space entry requires extensive equipment including equipment for atmospheric testing, ventilation, communication, lighting, and rescue. Workers must also be equipped with personal protective equipment appropriate for the hazards of the space.

Training is required for all those involved with confined space entry. Enterprise Risk Management provides confined space entry training. The type of training varies according to the tasks the workers are expected to perform, but must always cover:

  • How to recognize confined spaces and their hazards
  • The confined space entry written program
  • The written entry permit
  • How to use any equipment necessary for safe entry