Confined Space Signs
 
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What constitutes a confined space?
 
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guidelines, a confined space:
 
Is large enough and so configured that an employee can enter and perform assigned work;
Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry);
Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Safety guidelines for dealing with areas like these vary as widely as the environments that fit OSHA's criteria – fracturing tanks, water valve pits, grain silos, furnaces, fermentation tanks, wastewater treatment vats, gasoline tanks, utility tunnels, sewers, wells and municipal water tanks among many other areas are all examples of confined spaces.
Recent statistics are unavailable, but between 1998 and 2000, an average of 92 workers died in confined spaces per year, making them an area of particular concern for OSHA. Some locations may not require a permit to enter – OSHA cites "underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas," among others. Other, more hazardous areas can only be entered by permit holders who have been specially trained – these are usually areas with dangerous atmospheres, risk of asphyxiation or engulfment, or places that are just exceptionally hard to get out of. (Consult this flow chart to determine whether an area requires a permit.) Some examples: areas where normal atmosphere might be displaced by nitrogen or other gases; grain silos of all sorts.
Owners and employers don't need to post signs near every confined space, but for compliance with OSHA, employers must post signs warning workers and the public of permit-required areas. You're always better safe than sorry, though, and for workers' sakes, we strongly recommend posting "confined area" signs near both permit-required and non-permit-required confined spaces. It's just a common-sense way to keep the public away from dangerous places, and make certain that employees know when to engage their training and procedures. Safety signs and confined space signage always have a role to play in safe worksites.
 
 
Safety Signs
Due to the dual dangers of asphyxiation and engulfment, workers are no longer allowed inside grain silos with open augers, period. Combustion is also a concern – grain particles suspended in the air can explode.
 
Since regulations change with some frequency, it is vital to consult both federal and local regulations.

 
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