Confined Spaces

Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because, while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and conduct inspections, minor repairs and perform maintenance activities. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, pits, baghouses, manholes, tunnels, equipment housings, ductwork, pipelines, etc.

Developed by J. J. Keller’s trusted team of in-house compliance experts, the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE offers a variety of resources for streamlining confined space entry.

Question Mark Icon


A confined space:

  • Has limited means of entry and/or exit,
  • Is large enough for a worker to enter it, and
  • Is not intended for regular/continuous occupancy.

Examples include sewers, pits, crawl spaces, attics, boilers, and many more.

OSHA uses the term “permit-required confined space” (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant
  • Has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant
  • Contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.

OSHA’s Permit Space Standard applies to all general industry employers that have permit spaces. OSHA has a separate standard for construction activities (29 CFR 1926), agriculture employment (29 CFR 1928), and shipyard employment (29 CFR 1915).

If you are doing construction work — such as building a new structure or upgrading an old one — then you must follow the construction confined space rule.

Yes, if workers will enter permit spaces a written confined space program is required.