Carnegie Mellon University

Confined Space Program

A confined space is any space that has the following three specific characteristics:

  • A space that is large enough or so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform work
  • A space that has limited means of entry or exit – usually mistaken as having only one entry or exit point, but actually means that all points are difficult to get through (require a ladder, ducking, stepping over, crawling through, etc.) regardless of the number of entrances or exits
  • A space that is not designed for continuous human occupancy

Examples of confined spaces on campus include:

  • Underground utility vaults for water and steam
  • Manholes and sewers
  • Dust collectors
  • Some HVAC units

The Confined Space Program establishes the minimum requirements to enter Confined Spaces. The goal of the program is to prevent injuries to CMU faculty, staff and contractors by incorporating the federal requirements found within Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 29 CFR 1910.146 Permit-Required Confined Space and OSHA 1926 Subpart AA.

Confined Space Entry Request 

To request a confined space entry, email, and please include the following:

  • Date/time
  • Location
  • Type of space
  • Utilities
  • Scope of work

 Roles and Responsibilities

No employee should enter a confined space without the proper support team in place. Working alone in a confined space could leave a person trapped. There are three main members on a confined space team:

Attendants must know the hazards and continually monitor the atmospheric conditions inside the confined space. Any changes observed, including any behavioral changes in the entrants that can indicate hazards must be communicated immediately. If an emergency situation arises, the attendant must have all of the entrants evacuate, summon emergency rescue when needed, and contact the entry supervisor to report the condition. During an emergency, the attendant must stay at the entry point and never enter the space to facilitate the rescue. The attendant must also keep unauthorized employees out of the space. Because the attendant’s responsibilities are extremely important, no one must never enter a confined space without an attendant present. There must be at least one attendant stationed outside of the space throughout the duration of the work within the space.
The entrant is the person designated to enter the confined space to perform work and the one with the highest risk. Before entering the space, the entrant must be properly trained and have direct authorization to enter the space. The entrant must know and understand all confined space procedures and have the training and knowledge to safely work in the confined space, recognize potential hazards and to self-evacuate when conditions change.

The entry supervisor is responsible for determining whether acceptable entry conditions exist, authorizing the entry, overseeing entry operations, terminating the entry, and canceling the entry permit.

The entry supervisor must be knowledgeable on the permit system including potential hazards, methods of hazard elimination, how to complete the permit, required atmospheric testing, and necessary safety equipment. The entry supervisor may also be trained to serve as an entrant or attendant if need during an emergency.