Working in confined spaces is highly dangerous.
According to a new report, an average of 100 construction workers lose their lives in confined space accidents every year. That’s an alarming rate of 8 workers per month!
So, if you’re a construction company owner, it’s very important for you to understand what confined spaces mean in the residential context. This can help you:
➔ set better safety standards in the workplace, and
➔ offer the right confined space training to the employees.
Ready to learn more? Let’s discuss what are confined spaces in detail below!
Understanding the Basics
Confined spaces in residential construction are small, enclosed areas where people don’t usually stay for a long time. These places can be risky because they have limited ways to get in and out.
For example, crawl spaces are tiny areas beneath houses with low ceilings and not much room to move. Attics can be small and not well-lit. Utility tunnels are narrow passages with pipes and wires.
So, if something goes wrong, it can be hard to escape these places. The worker can get trapped and lose his life. And that’s not all.
These places can also be dangerous because they might not have enough air, and sometimes, they might have things like mold or harmful substances in the atmosphere. These particular risks can’t be detected with the naked eye, and so the worker might not even be able to escape.
This is why it’s very important for people working in these spaces to have the right training and safety gear and follow special rules to stay safe.
The OSHA Standards
OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It’s a government agency in the United States that makes sure workers have safe and healthy working conditions.
According to OSHA, a confined space is anything that has the following qualities:
➔ Big enough for the employee to enter
➔ Has limited access points
➔ Is not designed for continuous human occupancy
However, not all confined spaces pose an immediate threat. This is why OSHA has two main categories: confined spaces and permit-required confined spaces.
The permit-required confined spaces have one or more of the following characteristics:
➔ Toxic atmosphere or potential to have it (due to accidental release of substances)
➔ Narrow or small enough to trap the worker
➔ Contains a recognized health hazard
➔ Contains a material that can trap the entrant
If a confined space has any of these characteristics, you will need to get a permit to work. Your employees can’t work in the area otherwise. Moreover, for confined spaces in residential construction, OSHA has set specific standards to protect workers.
These standards include requirements for training, equipment, and procedures when working in confined spaces. They also cover things like testing the air quality in these spaces, making sure there’s proper ventilation, and having a plan in case of emergencies.
Since different countries have different safety regulation departments, we recommend contacting your country’s department to get details about the required safety standards.
Confined Spaces in Residential Construction