Exposure to harmful substances or environments is a leading cause of illness and death in the industrial workplace. Working in a confined space can represent a “triple threat” of hazards to employees. First, workers run the risk of exposure to a range of hazardous atmospheres when entering a confined space. Second, the space can present physical dangers due to cramped working space, proximity to moving equipment, poor walking surfaces and the possibility of engulfment. Finally, the nature of confined spaces makes rescue of someone needing assistance within the space much more difficult.
To be sure that work within a confined space is performed safely, employers must develop strategies that help workers recognize and avoid these potentially dangerous conditions. Effective confined space entry strategies should begin with the education and training of all entrants, attendants, and support personnel.