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Confined Space Awareness

Jeffrey R. Sotek, PE, CSP, CIH

Course Outline

In this three hour course students will be provided definitions and examples of confined spaces that could be encountered in the workplace.  In addition, students will learn OSHA requirements, under 29 CFR 1910.146, for a confined space entry program, entry permits, alternative entry procedures, and the reclassification of permitted spaces.  The information is provided in a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation handout and in OSHA Publication 3138 and will help further an understanding of OSHA's Permit Required Confined Space Standard for general industry.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for safety engineers, environmental engineers and EHS professionsals.

Course Introduction

Most employers in a general industry setting have at least one confined space on-site, such as a boiler or a storage tank.  OSHA requires all employers to evaluate all confined spaces, and identify permit required confined spaces and relay their hazards to employees.  Employers must decide whether permit required confined spaces will be entered by their own employees or outside contractors.  In order to properly complete a permit required confined space entry, employers must meet several OSHA requirements, such as develop and implement a entry program, train employees, provide means for emergency rescue, etc.   As such, the understanding of confined space definitions and hazards is important, but the means to conduct entries, control the hazards encountered, conduct air monitoring, and rescue employees are equally important to keep employees safe.   The information, contained in the provided Confined Space Awareness presentation and in OSHA’s Publication 3138, is not only essential to environmental and safety engineers providing consulting services, but also valuable to all EHS professionals, and general industry employees.   The principles of this course can also be applied to evaluating hazards encountered during our private lives.

Course Content

Confined or enclosed spaces include, but are not limited to, storage tanks, process vessels, bins, boilers, ventilation or exhaust ducts, sewers, underground utility vaults, and open top spaces more than 4 feet deep such as pits, tubs, vaults, and vessels." These spaces are considered to be "confined" because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter into, work in, or exit from them. In many instances, employees who work in confined spaces also face increased risk of exposure to serious physical injury from hazards such as hazardous atmospheric conditions, entrapment, engulfment,  and other serious hazards.

Hazards exist during work in confined spaces in every workplace and air monitoring, hazard control procedures, PPE, and training are used to protect workers against hazardous exposures.  According to OSHA, the promulgation of the Permit Required Confined Space Regulation will save over 50 deaths a year and over 10,000 injuries annually. 

In this lesson, you will be directed to a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation handout, titled Confined Space Awareness Training (23 pages, pdf file format), which provides basic information about confined spaces, examples of confined spaces and hazards, and an overview of OSHA requirements.  Also, you will need to review OSHA's website to study the document titled Permit Required Confined Spaces - OSHA 3138 (2004 edition, 11 pages, pdf file format), which provides a guide to employers to assist in understanding OSHA’s Permit Required Confined Space requirements, confined space entry program requirements, entry permits, worker training obligations, and emergency rescue requirements.  The concepts and principles contained in OSHA 3138 will help further an understanding of OSHA's Confined Space standard for general industry. This technical document is in the public domain and may be downloaded or printed free of charge.

Confined Space Awareness Training (23 pages, pdf file format)

Permit Required Confined Spaces - OSHA 3138 (2004 edition, 11 pages, pdf file format)

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Summary

Confined spaces are encountered in almost every workplace and their presence can be dangerous to employees who enter them or work near them.  Thus, the understanding of how to identify a permit required confined space, evaluate their hazards,  conduct entries, control the hazards encountered, conduct air monitoring, and rescue employees are equally important to keep employees safe.   Through this online course, licensed professionals and EHS professionals can learn how to assist employers with assessing permit required confined spaces and understanding OSHA’s confined space requirements, as well as, keep themselves and other employees safe from confined space hazards during projects.

Related Links

For additional information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

OSHA’s Health and Safety Topic – Permit Required Confined Spaces


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.