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What Is Confined Space Training?

Individual companies generally provide confined space training to their workers.
Confined space training typically pairs classroom instruction with hands-on experience in the field.
Manholes in the street are an example of a confined space.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2014
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Confined space training is worker safety training provided to people who may need to enter confined spaces while on the job. Confined spaces are tight locations with limited entrances and exits where people may face hazards like accumulations of gases, difficulty turning around, falls, floods, and fires. Under the labor laws of many nations, people who work in such spaces, ranging from well maintenance personnel to utility workers, need to receive confined space training before they are allowed to work, and in some cases, people may need to hold a special permit for particular types of spaces.

Some examples of confined spaces include storage tanks and vats, pits, manholes, utility access rooms, and so forth. In confined space training, people are provided with information on how to safely enter and work in such spaces, including advice on setting signs and flares to alert someone to the fact that there is a worker inside. Workers may also be provided with training on using sniffer devices for gas, radiation, and other hazards so they know when dangerous conditions are developing and they can evacuate.

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Labor laws may differentiate between permitted confined spaces and unpermitted ones. A permitted space is a location with special hazards, requiring specific training and certification to enter. Storage tanks used at refineries are a common example of a permitted confined space. Firefighters also hold permits to enter confined spaces during fires and chemical spills so they can respond safely to emergencies. Unpermitted confined spaces are potentially hazardous and people should be provided with safety training, but they do not need special certifications.

The requirements for confined space training usually include a classroom component to cover risks and procedures, along with practical experience in a confined space with simulated conditions under the supervision of instructors. The length of time needed for training varies. Instructors certified by regulatory agencies are needed for permitted confined space training, while more basic training can be provided by supervisors with sufficient training and experience. People may also need to renew periodically to demonstrate their skills.

People interested in receiving confined space training can often find listings in their area through fire departments and emergency services agencies. In workplaces, training will be provided on the job or people will be sent to an appropriate training facility if the training is needed for safety. Employers should cover expenses associated with training. Some employers require prospective employees to hold certifications when applying for a job, but they will pay for continuing education and renewals to keep the work environment safe.

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