A new initiative from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) seeks to protect workers in the tank cleaning industry from atmospheric and confined space hazards. As the OSHA website explains, many workplaces contained confined spaces that are not necessarily designed for people but are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain tasks.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, and pipelines. What all of these spaces have in common is limited or restricted means for entry and exit. Importantly, confined spaces are not designed for continuous occupancy either.
There is specific OSHA definition for a “permit-required confined space”, and these areas are subject to standards and enforcement. There is also a specific definition of confined spaces in the construction industry. OSHA provides resources for recognizing and evaluating hazards along with resources that describe possible solutions, such as ventilation and guardrails.