If your facility has a confined space, it's up to you to make sure that it's safe. You should have safety requirements for entering the space. But are those requirements in compliance with OSHA guidelines? When it's a permit required confined space, you have mandated safety requirements that you must meet. But when is a confined space a PRCS?
Defining a Confined Space
OSHA defines a confined space as one that has all of these characteristics:
- The space is large enough for someone to enter and work
- The space is not designed for continuous occupancy by a person
- The space has a limited or restricted access
You can probably think of many places that can fit at least one of these, but keep in mind that a confined space has to have all of these. Understand that a confined space isn't necessarily a small space. For example, a truck trailer can become a confined space when the doors close, even if it's an excessively large trailer.
Additionally, ANSI has specific criteria defines what safety measures you're supposed to use in confined spaces. In fact, if you have a confined space, it's expected that those who access the space have training and that you have a confined space safety plan.
When a Confined Space Becomes a PRCS
OSHA has specific criteria as to what constitutes a confined space. They have a confined space standard (29 CFR 1910.146), which says that a confined space is a permit required confined space if it meets any of the following.
- A hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere
- Has a configuration that can potentially trap someone
- Has a configuration that can potentially asphyxiate someone
- Contains material that can engulf someone
- Contains any general but recognizable health or safety hazard
If you have a space with any of these hazards, then you have a PRCS. And if that's the case, then you must comply with all the provisions outlined in 29 CFR 1910.146. To help you out, OSHA provides a nice flow chart to walk you through the process. In brief, if you do have a PRCS, you must do much of the following:
- Inform employees about the presence of a PRCS
- Prevent employee entry
- Post an easily visible sign
- Train designated employees
- Inform contractors about the space even if they are entering it
- Provide proper safety equipment
These are just a few of the things required of you. As you can see, once you go from confined space to PRCS things can become more complicated. Do not look at the complications as a hassle or a burden. They exist to protect you, your employees, and your business. To learn more, contact a business like Public Works Supply.