Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered “confined” because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them. A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines. 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; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress.
NAU employees must first identify if a certain space is a confined space or not prior to performing work in it. To assist with this task, NAU Facilities employees are encouraged to consult a list of known confined spaces on campus with the Director of Operations. All other NAU employees must call the EH&S office (523-6109) for assistance. EH&S can offer consultative support in the form of space determination, permit/non-permit entry forms, and air monitoring.