Confined Space Entry Program
A confined space is any space that is large enough for an employee to enter, has a restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Examples of confined spaces at MC include:
- Cooling towers
- Air handling units
Confined spaces may contain hazards that can injure workers or quickly lead to death. Untrained and ill-equipped rescuers can easily become victims themselves. MC Facilities, supported by Public Health & Environmental Safety (PHES), must follow the requirements of the Confined Space Entry Program to ensure personnel working in or near confined spaces are protected from harm.
The Confined Space Entry Program applies to any MC Facilities department that has space(s) that may potentially be hazardous when entered. A confined space is one configured so that a person can fully enter and work, but is not designed for continuous human occupancy and has restricted or limited means of entry or exit.
A comprehensive confined space entry program is required in order to ensure the safety of employees who must enter and work in confined spaces.
Confined spaces may contain a hazardous atmosphere, engulfment hazards or other hazards, such as electrical, mechanical and fall from a height. These spaces require entry permits that address the hazards, mitigations and required approvals.
Hazards may also be introduced by activities performed inside the space. Use of chemicals, painting, cleaning, grinding or sanding all create atmospheric hazards that can cause injury or illness without adequate ventilation or other controls. Hot work (e.g., welding, cutting, grinding, or brazing) in a confined space may release toxic gases or fumes.
Elements of the Confined Space Entry Program include:
- A written Confined Space Entry program document
- Inventory of permit-required confined spaces and hazards determination
- Development of department-specific confined space entry plans
- Roles and responsibilities for confined space entry supervisors, entrants and attendants
- Confined space signage requirements
- MC permit for confined space entry including preparation, use and cancellation of permits
- Methods for hazard mitigation, including air monitoring and use of entry equipment
- Rescue and emergency procedures
- Training of employees
- Contractor requirements
MC Facilities that do not expect to enter any confined spaces are not required to develop a confined space entry plan. If a department or its contractor needs to enter a confined space,
What You Need to Know
All MC departments that work in or have control of permit-required confined spaces should develop, implement and enforce a confined space entry plan. Such plans should follow the MC Confined Space Entry Program and address the department's specific needs.
- Develop and implement the confined space entry plan for employees who enter or assist those who enter confined spaces.
- Identify and notify PHES of all permit-required confined spaces.
- Verify prior to entry that the confined space entry supervisor, entrants and attendants are trained in the department’s confined space entry plan and are up-to-date with the MC confined space entry training.
- Recognize any potential hazards during entry, including signs and symptoms of exposure (entry supervisors).
- Ensure that a written entry permit for permit-required confined spaces is complete and approved prior to every permit-required confined space entry; also ensuring rescue services are in place.
- Ensure that proper procedures are followed and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn whenever employees enter a confined space.
- Ensure that proper confined space entry equipment and PPE are purchased, maintained and available.
- Work with PHES to resolve issues related to the confined space entry program.
- Ensure all injuries and near-misses, including those potentially caused by work in confined spaces, are reported using the Accident Investigation Form.
- Ensure contractors entering confined spaces have reviewed the confined space entry plan, have been informed of the potential hazards and participate in a post-entry review.
- Complete required initial and periodic refresher training for the confined space entry program.
- Be aware of and understand the hazards that may be encountered during entry.
- Follow prescribed confined space safety practices and procedures.
- Wear appropriate PPE when entering a confined space.
- Communicate with attendants as necessary to alert them of hazards.
- Evacuate the space if a hazard is recognized, if ordered to evacuate, or if alarm is activated.
- Monitor the work area for hazardous conditions, communicate with entrants and monitor their status, and perform non-entry rescue or summon rescue and emergency services as needed (performed by attendants stationed outside the confined space).
- Provide a copy of the company’s confined space program to the department.
- Obtain information about specific confined space hazards and entry operations from facilities.
- Coordinate entry operations with any other employers or departments whose employees will be working in or near the confined space.
- Inform the host employer or department about:
*Entry procedures that will be followed
*Any hazards confronted or created in the space during entry operations
- Establish and maintain the overall MC Confined Space Entry program.
- Produce and maintain program documentation, including confined space inventories, procedures and forms.
- Assist departments with the development of their confined space entry plans.
- Ensure that permit-required confined spaces are posted and assist departments with signage.
- Evaluate spaces to determine if they meet the confined space definition and therefore must be managed as a permit-required confined space.
- Work with departments to fully implement the program for the confined spaces they manage.
- Provide employees with confined space safety training and resources.
- Audit departments for compliance with the program.
- Monitor changes in regulations, policies and best practices.
What You Can Do to Stay Safe
- Always be current with your confined space training and ask questions if unsure about any hazards in a confined space, hazards introduced from doing work in a confined space, entry procedures or potential problems that may occur.
- Never enter a confined space if you are unsure of the hazards, procedures and equipment, or if you feel ill.
- As an entrant, communicate frequently with your attendant(s) about the status of your work in the confined space and how you feel.
- Understand and communicate to others not to enter spaces that are posted with confined space signage.
- If you suspect a space meets the definition of a permit-required confined space, do not enter the space. Complete the Confined Space Evaluation form and submit it to EHS for evaluation.
Germantown Campus Confined Spaces (PDF, )
Rockville Campus Confined Spaces (PDF, )
Takoma Park Campus Confined Spaces (PDF, )
Confined Space Evaluation Form (PDF, )
Public Health & Environmental Safety Office provides the following services:
- Assists departments with developing, maintaining and improving their confined space entry safety plans.
- Maintains a confined space inventory list for your reference.
If you need help, send us an email.