Confined Space

It is the policy of Western Washington University that whenever employees or students are exposed to a hazard arising from entry into a confined space, appropriate training, protective and rescue equipment, and procedures are used to safeguard the exposed workers or students from serious injury or death. Confined space entry requirements are defined in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Part 296-809.

For each project or job, individuals who are competent in the evaluation of hazards, precautions, first aid, and artificial respiration are specifically assigned. All personnel are trained in the use of personal protective equipment required for the job assignment.

Employees are not permitted to enter atmospheres in a confined space which has contained toxic, flammable or corrosive materials or which may have had such materials accidentally introduced or generated until the space has been evaluated and/or tested by a competent person, generally Environmental Health and Safety staff, who declare the space safe for entry. Exposure to temperature extremes, noise, and ionizing radiation are to be controlled. The confined space entry program is described in Section 15 of the University’s Safety Information Book.

Confined Space Entry Permit

A confined space entry permit is to be prepared prior to entry into any confined space. It is kept at the confined space location during the length of the job and is in effect for one shift only. Upon execution of the work, the completed permit is filed by the supervisor and a copy sent to the Environmental Health and Safety office.

Toxic Or Flammable Atmospheres

Atmospheres where contamination is below permissible exposure limits/threshold limit values may be entered without respiratory protection. Atmospheres where contamination is above the permissible exposure limits (PEL) but below values immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) may be entered when appropriate respiratory protective equipment is properly worn.

Atmospheres which contain or could contain flammable gases or vapors shall not be entered if the concentration of gases or vapors in any part of the area is more than 20% of the lower explosive limit (LEL) except in the event of emergency and then only when employees are protected by equipment approved for such exposures. It must be remembered that measurements less than 20% of the LEL may still be above the IDLH of some substances.

Oxygen Deficiency Or Excess

Atmospheres having an oxygen content less than 19.5% oxygen at sea level (this may deviate at higher elevations) are not entered without approved respiratory protective equipment which provides an adequate supply of breathing air.

Mechanical Hazards

Confined areas containing parts which may move or which contain agitators, fans, or other power driven moving parts of potential hazard to employees are not entered until it is assured that such parts cannot move to injure the employee.

Electrical Hazards

Electrical circuits in the confined area which may present a hazard are to be disconnected, locked out, and tagged in accordance with Western Washington University's Lockout/Tagout Program for Control of Hazardous Energy.

Procedures Prior To Entry Into Confined Spaces Containing Possible Toxic Or Flammable Atmospheres

Appropriate protocols, as described in the confined space entry procedures in Section 15 of the University’s Safety Information Book are to be followed prior to entry into a confined space containing possible toxic or flammable atmospheres:

Hot Work

Special procedures are applicable if hot work is performed in a confined space. Refer to the confined space procedures in Section 15 of the Safety Information Book.

Page Updated 08.06.2012