The Confined Space Entry Permit is the most essential tool for assuring safety during entry in confined spaces with known hazards or with unknown or potentially hazardous atmospheres. The entry permit process guides the supervisor and workers through a systematic evaluation of the space to be entered. The permit should be used to establish appropriate conditions. Before each entry into a confined space, an entry permit will be completed by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS). EHS will then communicate the contents of the permit to all employees involved in the operation and post the permit conspicuously near the work location. A standard entry permit shall be used for all entries.
By OSHA definition, a confined space:
- Is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work
- Is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee
- Has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit
These spaces may include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas, vessels, silos, and other similar areas.
By OSHA definition, a permit-required confined space has one or more of the following characteristics:
- Contains, or has the potential to contain, a hazardous atmosphere
- Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space
- Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section
- Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards
A standard entry permit shall contain the following items:
- Space to be entered
- Purpose of entry
- Date and authorized duration of the entry permit
- Name of authorized entrants within the permit space
- Means of identifying authorized entrants inside the permit space (i.e., rosters or tracking systems)
- Name(s) of personnel serving as Attendant(s) for the permit duration
- Name of individual serving as Entry Supervisor, with a space for the signature or initials of the Entry Supervisor who originally authorized the entry
- Hazards of the permit space to be entered
- Measures used to isolate the permit space and to eliminate or control permit space hazards before entry (i.e., lockout/tagout of equipment and procedures
for purging, ventilating, and flushing permit spaces)
- Acceptable entry conditions
- Results of initial and periodic tests performed, accompanied by the names or initials of the testers and the date(s) when the tests were performed
- Rescue and emergency services that can be summoned, and the means of contacting those services (i.e., equipment to use, phone numbers to call)
- Communication procedures used by authorized entrants and Attendant(s) to maintain contact during the entry
- Equipment to be provided for compliance with this Confined Space Program (i.e., PPE, testing, communications, alarm systems, and rescue)
- Other information necessary for the circumstances of the particular confined space that will help ensure employee safety
- Additional permits, such as for hot work, that has been issued to authorize work on the permit space
A permit is only valid for one shift. For a permit to be renewed, the following conditions shall be met before each reentry into the confined space:
- Atmospheric testing shall be conducted, and the results should be within acceptable limits. If atmospheric test results are not within acceptable limits, precautions to protect entrants against the hazards should be addressed on the permit and should be in place.
- EHS shall verify that all precautions and other measures called for on the permit are still in effect.
- Only operations or work originally approved on the permit shall be conducted in the confined space.
A new permit shall be issued, or the original permit will be reissued if possible, whenever changing work conditions or work activities introduce new hazards into the confined space. EHS shall retain each canceled entry permit for at least one (1) year to facilitate the review of the Confined Space Entry Program. Any problems encountered during an entry operation shall be noted on the respective permit(s) so that appropriate revisions to the confined space permit program can be made.