In 2014, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first – which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces. Unfortunately, tragedies like this happen too often throughout the world, but confined space rescues can have a good outcome if effective confined space programs are developed.
In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these do not have to happen. Compliance with OSHA's regulations and guidance will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces, and could prevent at least five construction worker fatalities and many more rescuer fatalities. It may also prevent nearly 800 serious injuries every year.
OSHA's 29 CFR 1926, Subpart AA, Confined Spaces in Construction, one or more confined spaces.
This course contains information on confined spaces in construction including safe entry procedures, the permit space program, duties and responsibilities, and best practices on a construction project.
This course has been developed to explain basic requirements detailed within OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926, Subpart AA – Confined Spaces in Construction, which will assist employers in establishing and maintaining an effective construction confined space program. By implementing such a program, our employees will be able to:
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Acceptable entry conditions means the conditions that must exist in a permit space, before an employee may enter that space, to ensure that employees can safely enter into, and safely work within, the space.
Attendant means an individual stationed outside one or more permit spaces who assesses the status of authorized entrants and who must perform the duties specified in §1926.1209.
Authorized entrant means an employee who is authorized by the entry supervisor to enter a permit space. The entry supervisor has the duty to identify the authorized entrants on the entry permit, regardless of whether or not they are employees of another employer.
Barrier means a physical obstruction that blocks or limits access. An employer is in violation of OSHA's construction confined space standard when a barrier that prohibits or limits persons from entering a permit space from outside the space also prohibits or limits egress for authorized entrants seeking to exit the permit space, even though the definition of “barrier” does not address egress explicitly. Locking a bolt on a door that is the only means of egress from a permit space, for example, could constitute a prohibited barrier that would interfere with egress from the permit space.
Blanking or blinding means the absolute closure of a pipe, line, or duct by the fastening of a solid plate (such as a spectacle blind or a skillet blind) that completely covers the bore and that is capable of withstanding the maximum pressure of the pipe, line, or duct with no leakage beyond the plate.
Competent person means one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.
Confined space means a space that:
Control means the action taken to reduce the level of any hazard inside a confined space using engineering methods (for example, by ventilation), and then using these methods to maintain the reduced hazard level. Control also refers to the engineering methods used for this purpose. Personal protective equipment is not a control.
Controlling Contractor is the employer that has overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. Note. If the controlling contractor owns or manages the property, then it is both a controlling employer and a host employer.
Double block and bleed means the closure of a line, duct, or pipe by closing and locking or tagging two in-line valves and by opening and locking or tagging a drain or vent valve in the line between the two closed valves.
Early-warning system means the method used to alert authorized entrants and attendants that an engulfment hazard may be developing. Examples of early-warning systems include, but are not limited to: alarms activated by remote sensors; and lookouts with equipment for immediately communicating with the authorized entrants and attendants.
Emergency means any occurrence (including any failure of power, hazard control or monitoring equipment) or event, internal or external, to the permit space that could endanger entrants.
Engulfment means the surrounding and effective capture of a person by a liquid or finely divided (flowable) solid substance that can be aspirated to cause death by filling or plugging the respiratory system or that can exert enough force on the body to cause death by strangulation, constriction, crushing, or suffocation.
Entry means the action by which any part of a person passes through an opening into a permit space. Entry includes ensuing work activities in that space and is considered to have occurred as soon as any part of the entrant's body breaks the plane of an opening into the space, whether or not such action is intentional or any work activities are actually performed in the space.
Entry Employer means any employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space.
Note. An employer cannot avoid the duties of the standard merely by refusing to decide whether its employees will enter a permit space, and OSHA will consider the failure to so decide to be an implicit decision to allow employees to enter those spaces if they are working in the proximity of the space.
Entry permit (permit) means the written or printed document that is provided by the employer who designated the space a permit space to allow and control entry into a permit space and that contains the information specified in §1926.1206 of this standard.
Entry rescue occurs when a rescue service enters a permit space to rescue one or more employees.
Entry supervisor means the qualified person (such as the employer, foreman, or crew chief) responsible for determining if acceptable entry conditions are present at a permit space where entry is planned, for authorizing entry and overseeing entry operations, and for terminating entry as required by this standard.
Note. An entry supervisor also may serve as an attendant or as an authorized entrant, as long as that person is trained and equipped as required by this standard for each role he or she fills. Also, the duties of entry supervisor may be passed from one individual to another during the course of an entry operation.Hazard means a physical hazard or hazardous atmosphere. See definitions below.
Hazardous atmosphere means an atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue (that is, escape unaided from a permit space), injury, or acute illness from one or more of the following causes:
Note. An atmospheric concentration of any substance that is not capable of causing death, incapacitation, impairment of ability to self-rescue, injury, or acute illness due to its health effects is not covered by this definition.
Note. For air contaminants for which OSHA has not determined a dose or permissible exposure limit, other sources of information, such as Safety Data Sheets that comply with the Hazard Communication Standard, §1926.59 of this part, published information, and internal documents can provide guidance in establishing acceptable atmospheric conditions.
Host employer means the employer that owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place.
Note. If the owner of the property on which the construction activity occurs has contracted with an entity for the general management of that property, and has transferred to that entity the information specified in §1203(h)(1), OSHA will treat the contracted management entity as the host employer for as long as that entity manages the property. Otherwise, OSHA will treat the owner of the property as the host employer. In no case will there be more than one host employer.
Hot work means operations capable of providing a source of ignition (for example, riveting, welding, cutting, burning, and heating).
Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) means any condition that would interfere with an individual's ability to escape unaided from a permit space and that poses a threat to life or that would cause irreversible adverse health effects.
Note. Some materials—hydrogen fluoride gas and cadmium vapor, for example—may produce immediate transient effects that, even if severe, may pass without medical attention, but are followed by sudden, possibly fatal collapse 12-72 hours after exposure. The victim "feels normal" after recovery from transient effects until collapse. Such materials in hazardous quantities are considered to be “immediately” dangerous to life or health.
Inerting means displacing the atmosphere in a permit space by a noncombustible gas (such as nitrogen) to such an extent that the resulting atmosphere is noncombustible.
Note. This procedure produces an IDLH oxygen-deficient atmosphere.
Isolate or isolation means the process by which employees in a confined space are completely protected against the release of energy and material into the space, and contact with a physical hazard, by such means as: blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines, pipes, or ducts; a double block and bleed system; lockout or tagout of all sources of energy; blocking or disconnecting all mechanical linkages; or placement of barriers to eliminate the potential for employee contact with a physical hazard.
Limited or restricted means for entry or exit means a condition that has a potential to impede an employee's movement into or out of a confined space. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, trip hazards, poor illumination, slippery floors, inclining surfaces and ladders.
Line breaking means the intentional opening of a pipe, line, or duct that is or has been carrying flammable, corrosive, or toxic material, an inert gas, or any fluid at a volume, pressure, or temperature capable of causing injury.
Lockout means the placement of a lockout device on an energy isolating device, in accordance with an established procedure, ensuring that the energy isolating device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the lockout device is removed.
Lower flammable limit or lower explosive limit means the minimum concentration of a substance in air needed for an ignition source to cause a flame or explosion.
Monitor or monitoring means the process used to identify and evaluate the hazards after an authorized entrant enters the space. This is a process of checking for changes that is performed in a periodic or continuous manner after the completion of the initial testing or evaluation of that space.
Non-entry rescue occurs when a rescue service, usually the attendant, retrieves employees in a permit space without entering the permit space.
Non-permit confined space means a confined space that meets the definition of a confined space but does not meet the requirements for a permit space.
Oxygen deficient atmosphere means an atmosphere containing less than 19.5 percent oxygen by volume.
Oxygen enriched atmosphere means an atmosphere containing more than 23.5 percent oxygen by volume.
Permit-space (permit-required confined space) means a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: (1) Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; (2) Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant; (3) Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section; or (4) Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
Permit space program (permit-required confined space program) means the employer's overall program for controlling, and, where appropriate, for protecting employees from, permit space hazards and for regulating employee entry into permit spaces.
Physical hazard means an existing or potential hazard that can cause death or serious physical damage. Examples include, but are not limited to: explosives, mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic energy; radiation; temperature extremes; engulfment; noise; and inwardly converging surfaces. Physical hazard also includes chemicals that can cause death or serious physical damage through skin or eye contact (rather than through inhalation).
Prohibited condition means any condition in a permit space that is not allowed by the permit during the period when entry is authorized. A hazardous atmosphere is a prohibited condition unless the employer can demonstrate that personal protective equipment (PPE) will provide effective protection for each employee in the permit space and provides the appropriate PPE to each employee.
Qualified person means one who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate, or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training, and experience, has successfully demonstrated his ability to solve or resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work, or the project.
Representative permit space means a mock-up of a confined space that has entrance openings that are similar to, and is of similar size, configuration, and accessibility to, the permit space that authorized entrants enter.
Rescue means retrieving, and providing medical assistance to, one or more employees who are in a permit space.
Rescue service means the personnel designated to rescue employees from permit spaces.
Retrieval system means the equipment (including a retrieval line, chest or full body harness, wristlets or anklets, if appropriate, and a lifting device or anchor) used for non- entry rescue of persons from permit spaces.
Serious physical damage means an impairment or illness in which a body part is made functionally useless or is substantially reduced in efficiency. Such impairment or illness may be permanent or temporary and includes, but is not limited to, loss of consciousness, disorientation, or other immediate and substantial reduction in mental efficiency. Injuries involving such impairment would usually require treatment by a physician or other licensed health-care professional.
Tagout means:(1) Placement of a tagout device on a circuit or equipment that has been deenergized, in accordance with an established procedure, to indicate that the circuit or equipment being controlled may not be operated until the tagout device is removed; and (2) The employer ensures that (i) tagout provides equivalent protection to lockout, or (ii) that lockout is infeasible and the employer has relieved, disconnected, restrained and otherwise rendered safe stored (residual) energy.
Test or testing means the process by which the hazards that may confront entrants of a permit space are identified and evaluated. Testing includes specifying the tests that are to be performed in the permit space.
Note. Testing enables employers both to devise and implement adequate control measures for the protection of authorized entrants and to determine if acceptable entry conditions are present immediately prior to, and during, entry.
Ventilate or ventilation means controlling a hazardous atmosphere using continuous forced-air mechanical systems that meet the requirements of §1926.57—Ventilation.