Confined Space FAQs
Get the answers to your most frequently asked questions about confined space entry training from our team of experts.
What Is Confined Space Training?
Confined Space Entry Training teaches you how to follow OSHA standards and protect yourself, your coworkers, or your supervisees while working in a confined space environment. Its goal is to prevent injury, illness, or death from common confined space hazards.
What Are Confined Space Regulations?
How Do You Get Confined Space Certification?
When you complete a confined space entry training course with an OSHA-authorized training provider, you'll be presented with a certificate of completion. That's generally what people mean when they say "certification," but please note, that phrase doesn't have any recognized meaning to OSHA.
How Often Is Confined Space Training Required / How Long Does Certification Last?
OSHA's confined space regulations (§1910.146 or §1926 Part AA for construction) don't specify a frequency for training renewal the way some OSHA regulations do. They specify that training should be provided to affected employees:
- Before the employee begins relevant duties
- Before there is a change in relevant duties
- Whenever a change in operations presents a hazard not previously covered by their training
- Whenever the employer has reason to believe that employees are deviating from entry procedures or that their knowledge/use of the procedures is inadequate
OSHA does have two annual requirements attached to confined spaces: employers are required to review the permit program annually, and employee rescue personnel need to perform practice rescues at least once every 12 months.
Industry leaders recommend that you refresh Confined Space Training every one or two years.
What is OSHA's Definition of a Confined Space?
According to OSHA, a confined space is:
- Large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work
- Not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee
- Limited or restricted in the means of entry and exit
Examples include tanks, storage bins, underground vaults, pits, diked areas, vessels, and silos.
What Are the Characteristics of an OSHA "Permit-Required Confined Space" (PRCS)?
OSHA requires a confined space permit if the confined space has one or more of the following characteristics:
- It contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
- It contains a material the has the ability to engulf someone who enters the space
- It has an internal configuration that could cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated
- It contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards
Who needs Confined Space Entry Training for Construction?
You need construction-specific Confined Space Entry Training if you're serving any of the following roles for a permit-required confined space:
- Confined space entrant
- Confined space attendant
- Confined space entry supervisor
- The "Competent Person" on-site
If you're a safety manager, company manager, supervisor, or foreman on jobs with confined spaces, you should also complete this training.
Confined space standards for construction (§1926 Part AA) cover all confined spaces not already specified by the Excavation standards in §1926 Part P. Examples include boilers, sewers, storm drains, manholes, and tanks.
Who needs Confined Space Entry Training for General Industry?
Confined space entrants, attendants, and entry supervisors operating outside the construction industry, plus safety managers and job-site supervisors whose supervisees enter permitted confined spaces.
Relevant job descriptions include maintenance technicians, pipeline workers, emergency response personnel, and others.
Construction workers have their own separate standards for confined spaces (see above).
Why Are Confined Spaces Dangerous?
Confined spaces tend to be dangerous because they're difficult to exit quickly in an emergency and your mobility is limited while you're inside. Their nature also hinders effective communication or rescue. Finally, the close quarters and restricted airflow make it easier for heat, gas, and other hazards to build up or fill the space.
What are the Hazards of Working in a Confined Space?
Asphyxiation is the leading cause of death in confined spaces. Many conditions common to confined spaces can lead to asphyxiation: oxygen deficiency, toxic atmosphere buildup, drowning or engulfment in fine particulate matter, and torso compression.
It's also possible to get trapped in confined spaces either by getting stuck in place or if your exit becomes blocked. Additionally, confined spaces amplify the hazards of whatever type of work you're performing. Noise, heat or cold, sparks, fumes, and visibility hinderances can all become a threat in a confined space very quickly.