Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while
they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to
enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means
for entry and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include,
but are not limited to, tanks, vessels, storage bins, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels,
equipment housings, etc.
No confined space shall be entered until adequate precautions have been taken to ensure
the safety of the employees entering the space and their surrounding work environment.
All spaces owned or operated by Western Carolina University (WCU) that meet the definition
of a confined space shall be identified and appropriately marked, and access to such
spaces shall be controlled.
Employees are prohibited from entering any space meeting the definition of permit
required confined space, unless the flowing conditions are met:
The appropriate WCU department determines that employees must enter permit confined
spaces to perform the mission of the department and/or duties of the employee.
The employees are trained in the entry duties under this program which they are to
The space is rendered safe for entry by any of the following: Issuance and compliance
with the conditions of the entry permit; The space is classified as a non-permit space;
The space is a permit space reclassified as a non-permitted space prior to entry.
Confined Space Definitions
Confined space: A space that meets all three of the following conditions:
Large enough for a person to bodily enter and perform work.
Has only means of entry/egress that requires a person to enter by a means other than
normal walking, such as crawling, squatting, climbing, bending, or use of devices.
Is not designed for people to continually occupy the space.
Non-Permit Space: A confined space that does not contain any actual or potential hazards capable of
causing death or serious physical harm.
Permit Required Confined Space; Permit Space: A confined space which has one or more of the following characteristics:
Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
Contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant;
Has an internal configuration that could trap or asphyxiate an entrant, such as inwardly
converging walls or a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section;
Contains any other recognized serious safety and/or health hazard.
Attendant: The trained individual stationed outside the permit space who monitors the authorized
entrants and who performs all attendant duties.
Entrant: The trained individual who enters the permit space.
Entry Supervisor: The trained individual with the responsibility to:
Assure that acceptable entry conditions are present within the permit space under
Issue a permit authorizing entry.
Oversee entry operations.
Terminate the entry and permit.
Engulfment: The surrounding and effective capture of a person by a liquid or finely divided
(flow-able) solid substance that can be aspirated to cause death by filling or plugging
the respiratory system, or that can exert force on the body to cause death by strangulation,
constriction, or crushing.
Hazardous atmosphere: an atmosphere that may expose employees to the risk of death, incapacitation, impairment
of the ability to escape unaided from a permit space, injury, or acute illness. Hazardous
atmospheres may be created by conditions such as, but not limited to:
Flammable gas, vapors, or mists in excess of ten percent of the lower flammable limit
Airborne combustible dust at a concentration that:
Meets or exceeds its LFL.
Obscures vision at a distance of five feet or less
Atmosphere oxygen concentration below 19.5 percent or above 23.5 percent.
Atmospheric concentrations at or above the Permissible Limit (PEL) of substances identified
in Subpart Z of 29 CFR 1910.
Any other atmospheric conditions which are immediately dangerous to life and health.
Immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH): means any condition that poses an immediate or delayed threat to life or that would
cause irreversible adverse health effects or that would interfere with an individual's
ability to escape unaided from a permit space.
Hazard Control Definitions
Conditions of Entry: The conditions that must exist in a permit space to allow employees to safely enter
and perform duties within the space.
Blanking, Binding: Absolute closure of a pipe, line, or duct by fastening a solid plate 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.
Double Block and Bleed: The closure of a line, duct, or pipe by closing and locking/tagging out two in-line
valves, and opening and locking/tagging out a drain or vent in the line between the
two closed valves.
Inerting: The displacement of the atmosphere in a permit space by a noncombustible gas to
such an extent that the resulting atmosphere is noncombustible, producing an IDLH
Isolation: The complete removal of a permit space from service and the complete protection
of that space from the release of energy or material.
Line Breaking: 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.
Alternate Entry Procedures: The use of continuous forced air ventilation and atmosphere monitoring in lieu
of a permit to enter a permit required confined space that:
Has an actual or potential hazardous atmosphere that can be demonstrably controlled
by continuous forced air ventilation alone.
Has no other hazards of any kind.
Emergency: Any occurrence (including the failure of hazard control or monitoring equipment)
or event, internal or external to the permit space, which could endanger entrants.
Entry: The action of breaking the plane of an opening of a permit space with any part of
Permit: The written or printed document authorizing entry into a permit space and designating
the requirements for entry.
Prohibited Condition: Any condition in a permit space that is not allowed by the permit during the period
when entry is authorized.
Testing: The process by which the hazards that may confront entrants are identified and evaluated.
This term includes the specification of tests that are to be performed in the permit
Safety and Risk Management
Safety and Risk Management has the primary responsibility for the implementation and
enforcement of the CSEP and is responsible for the following:
Develop the University’s written Confined Space Entry Program and update when necessary.
Provide guidance in the selection of air monitoring equipment, maintenance, field
calibration, and training of its use.
Assist in the evaluation and identification of confined spaces.
Perform air monitoring or testing of confined space work.
Develop and assist with conducting confined space training.
Entry Supervisors are responsible for providing the necessary direction and support
to ensure the effective implementation of the CSEP for their work areas. Entry supervisors
are responsible for the overall permit space entry and must coordinate all entry procedures,
tests, permits, and other required duties. Entry Supervisors are also responsible
for the following:
Assure that all employees involved in the work are trained in accordance with 29 CFR
1910.146 Confined Spaces and other requirements.
Determine if acceptable entry conditions are present at a permit space where the entry
Inform Authorized Entrants and Attendants of the potential hazards associated with
entering each space.
Sign-off on entry permit to allow employees to enter the confined space. Verify appropriate
entries have been made on the permit, all tests specified by the permit have been
conducted and that all procedures and equipment specified by the permit are in place
before signing the permit.
Terminate the entry and cancel the permit when appropriate.
Coordinate confined space entry operations with contractor should work involve spaces
owned or operated by WCU.
Verify rescue services are available and communication systems are functioning.
Remove unauthorized persons from work area who enter or attempt to enter the permitted
At least one attendant is required outside the permit space for the duration of the
authorized entry operation. All attendants are required to have completed confined
space training before they are allowed to serve as attendants. Attendants are responsible
for the following:
Know the hazards that may be faced during entry of the confined space.
Perform no other duties beyond stated for Attendants.
Station themselves outside permit space at the opening to the space, and remain in
place throughout the duration of the entry or until relieved by another authorized
Continuously maintain an accurate count of entrants in the permit space and ensure
a means to accurately identify authorized entrants.
Communicate with entrants frequently by voice or communication equipment to ensure
all is well or when they need to evacuate.
Order an immediate evacuation of the space:
Upon becoming aware of the development of a sign or symptom of an exposure to a dangerous
Upon becoming aware of the development of a condition that could endanger the entrants.
If the attendant cannot effectively and safety perform all the attendant responsibilities.
To summon rescue and other emergency services as soon as the attendant determines
entrants need assistance to escape the permit confined space.
Warn unauthorized persons to stay away from the permit confined space. Do not allow
unauthorized persons to enter the permit space. Inform the authorized entrants and
the entry supervisor if unauthorized persons have entered the permitted space. Entry
supervisor shall remove unauthorized persons from the permitted space.
Do not perform non-entry rescues as specified by the rescue procedures and the entry
All entrants must be authorized by the entry supervisor to enter permit spaces, have
received the required training, use the proper equipment, and observe the entry procedures
and permit. Entrants are responsible for the following:
Know the hazards that may be encountered during entry.
Enter the space and perform the assigned work as expediently as possible.
Communicate with the attendant frequently or upon request to confirm all is well.
Immediately evacuate the space and alert the attendant or entry supervisor whenever
any of the following occurs:
The development of a condition that causes a dangerous situation.
The development of a sign or symptom of exposure to a dangerous situation.
Failure of any required equipment to enter the permitted space.
Exit the permit space as quickly as possible whenever:
Attendant or entry supervisor gives an order to evacuate the permit space.
Entrant recognizes any warning sign or symptoms of a dangerous situation.
Entrant detects a prohibit condition not in compliance with the permit.
Failure of any required equipment to enter the permitted space.
Outside contractors may need to enter a permit space to perform work for the university.
The Safety and Risk Management Office shall be informed when a contractor will be
entering a WCU permitted confined space.
Contractors shall be informed that the space is a permit-required confined space and
known hazards within the space.
Contractors must follow WCU Confined Space Entry Program per OSHA Standard 29 CFR
1910.146 and use an authorized permit for entry.
Require the contractor to eliminate any temporary hazards created by the work, or
notify the supervisor
Contractors are responsible for the following:
Obtain and use the available information provided.
The entry supervisor shall notify any employees near or affected by entry.
If employees shall enter the space with contractor employees, the entry supervisor
shall ensure that entry operations are coordinated with the contractor or designee
to assure that:
All entrants of both employees can be accounted for during the entry.
The work of one employer does not endanger the employees of the second employer.
There is an attendant in place whenever employees of either employer have entered
Debrief the contractor at the conclusion of the entry regarding the permit space program
followed and any hazards confronted or created in the space during work.
The University has identified known permit required confined spaces. Please note that
WCU does not allow the use of alternate procedures during permit space entry. Entry
Supervisors are required to complete an entry permit for every permit required confined
space and have the permit onsite for the duration of the entry. The following are
examples of permit required confined spaces on campus:
Confined Space Reclassification
If a permit space poses no actual or potential atmospheric hazards and if all hazards
within the space are eliminated without entry into the space, the permit space may
be reclassified as non-permit confined space as long as the non-atmospheric conditions
If it is necessary to enter the permit space to eliminate hazards, such entry shall
be performed according to confined space entry procedures. If testing and inspection
during that entry demonstrate that the hazards within the permit space have been eliminated,
the permit space may be reclassified as a non-permit confined space as long as the
hazards remain eliminated.
A certification is documented showing the hazards were eliminated. If the hazards
arise within a permit space that has been declassified to a non-permit space, each
employee must exit the space and the space is reevaluated to determine if it must
be reclassified as a permit space.
Note: Control of the atmospheric hazards through forced air ventilation does not constitute
elimination of the hazards.
Non-permit required confined spaces do not contain additional hazards such as the
potential of a hazardous atmosphere or the potential for workers to become engulfed
or trapped by materials. Entry into confined spaces that do not require a permit
should be made with caution. The following are examples of non-permit confined spaces
Potentially Non-permit required:
Note: The locations of permit-required and non- permit required confined spaces are continuously
When there are changes in the use and configuration of a non-permit confined space
that might increase the hazards to entrants, the space is reevaluated and, if necessary,
reclassified as a permit-required confined space. Any changes to a confined space
should be communicated to the Safety and Risk Management Office.
The Safety and Risk Management Office and department supervisors shall perform a workplace
risk assessment to identify confined spaces, the hazards in or around the spaces,
and the potential for hazards to develop in or around the spaces. The assessment shall
identify all known permit required confined spaces (PRCSs), along with all energy
sources, moving equipment, and pipe inlets which must be controlled before entering
Confined Space Hazards
Each supervisor shall evaluate the hazards of a confined space before allowing employees
to enter. Supervisors shall identify the following, but not limited to, if present:
Atmospheric Hazards: oxygen depleted, toxic gases, or explosive
Physical Hazards: slip trip or fall, falling objects, moving parts of equipment or machinery, electrical
shock, temperature extremes, crushing, pinching, or excessive noise.
Precautions must be taken to prevent creating hazardous, toxic, or explosive atmospheres
while employees are within a confined space. The types of materials used while working
in a confined space must be thoroughly evaluated. Testing the atmosphere inside the
confined space is necessary before entering and during the time when work is being
performed. The use of toxic or flammable chemicals or materials can change the atmospheric
condition of a confined space after initial testing. When an atmosphere is changed,
it can create a dangerous environment.
Examples of work which can create a potentially dangerous atmosphere:
Using chemical products (painting, cleaning with solvents, applying adhesives, etc.)
Mixing of incompatible chemicals
Identify Confined Spaces
Each confined space listed shall be designated as a non-permit or permit required
space. The hazards of each permit required space shall be catalogued on the list.
WCU supervisors are encouraged to contact the Safety and Risk Management Office for
assistance with classifying confined spaces. Confined spaces shall be considered hazardous
until an evaluation is completed.
Departments shall notify Safety and Risk Management if additional confined spaces
are identified or if new ones are installed or created. For each newly identified
space, a “Confined Space Hazard Evaluation Form” must be completed and sent to the
Safety and Risk Management will maintain a campus-wide list of known permit required
confined spaces. The list shall be available to all supervisors and employees.
Elevator mechanical Spaces
Elevator mechanical spaces at WCU are generally considered confined spaces, but are
not generally considered permit required confined spaces.
If a hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere exists (e.g. a chemical leak, spill,
or welding) within or in close proximity to an elevator pit, the pit will be reclassified
as a permit-required confined space for the duration of the event. Employees who
enter the pit under these circumstances must perform operations in accordance with
WCU Confined Space Entry Program
Acceptable Entry Conditions
Before a permit space that may have a hazardous atmosphere can be entered, the atmosphere
must be tested using the steps identified on the permit (developed during evaluation
testing). Verification testing is done to make sure that the chemical hazards that
may be present are below the levels necessary for safe entry, and that they meet the
conditions identified on the permit. Test the atmosphere in the following order:
(1) for oxygen, (2) for combustible gases, and then (3) for toxic gases and vapors.
The testing results, the actual test concentrations, must be recorded on the permit
near the levels identified for safe entry.
The atmosphere will be considered unacceptable if the following conditions are present:
oxygen level is below 19.5%
oxygen level above 23.5%
flammable gas levels exceed 10% of the Lower Flammable Limit (LEL)
carbon monoxide levels above 25 ppm
hydrogen sulfide (H2s) above 10 ppm
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) above 2 ppm
Before an employee enters the space, the internal atmosphere shall be tested, with
a calibrated direct-reading instrument. Any employee who enters the space shall be
provided an opportunity to observe the pre-entry testing. The atmosphere within
the space shall be periodically tested as necessary to ensure the space is maintained
within the limits of the acceptable entry conditions per OSHA standards.
Isolating the Permit Space
All hazardous energy sources associated with permit spaces which may expose entrants
to potential injury are isolated, locked out and/or tagged out prior to entry:
Purging, Inerting, Flushing, or Ventilating Permit Spaces: All permit entry spaces are thoroughly purged, inerted, flushed, and ventilated as
necessary to ensure the elimination and/or control of all hazards which may cause
entrant injury and/or illness.
External Hazards: Pedestrian, vehicle, or other barriers are provided as necessary to protect entrants
from external hazards.
Verifying Acceptable Conditions: Conditions in permit spaces are tested and monitored throughout entry as necessary
to ensure that they are acceptable for the duration of the authorized entry.
Atmospheric testing is necessary to evaluate airborne hazards present in the permit
space, and to verify that acceptable entry conditions are present.
Initial evaluation of the atmosphere of a confined space should be analyzed with a
Safety Office approved instrument that is sensitive enough and designed to evaluate
any hazardous atmospheres that may exist or arise. The results of the atmospheric
testing will have a direct impact on the:
- Development of the entry procedure,
- Selection of PPE,
- Duration of worker exposure, or
- Whether an entry will be made at all.
The Safety office should be called for assistance with the evaluation and interpretation
of the data, and the development of the entry procedure.
Prior to entry, a PRCS which may contain a hazardous atmosphere shall be tested for
residues of all contaminants identified by the evaluation testing using an instrument
specified in the entry permit. Results of testing shall be recorded on the entry permit
and compared to the acceptable entry conditions. If testing reveals oxygen deficiency
or the presence of toxic gases or vapors, the space must be ventilated or purged and
retested before entry. The atmosphere shall be tested continuously during entry operations.
The measurement of each atmospheric parameter shall be made for at least the minimum
response time of the test instrument specified by the manufacturer.
The density of gases and vapors will cause them to be:
- Heavier than air, and settle to the bottom of a space, (hydrogen sulfide),
- Lighter than air, and concentrate at the top of the space, (methane), or
- The same as air, and accumulate in the center, (carbon monoxide).
When monitoring for entries involving a descent into atmospheres that may be stratified,
the space should be tested every four feet (4 ft.) in the direction of travel and
to each side. The entrant’s rate of progress should be slowed to allow for sampling
and detector response.
- Contact the Safety and Risk Management or responsible designee to act as air monitor
that has completed confined space training as well as training in the proper use of
the monitoring equipment.
- Use a Multi-Gas Monitor that has been calibrated within the past month and bump tested
on the day of use. A copy of the manufacturer’s operating instructions shall accompany
- In a clean atmosphere, perform equipment check-out procedure or operational check
as stated in the operating instructions.
- If possible, draw an air sample through a hole leading to the space before opening
the entry port. Otherwise, open the entry port and start sampling every 4 feet in
the direction of travel and from side to side. It is recommended that the sampling
time be twice (2 x) the response time of the equipment.
- Test atmosphere parameters in the following order: 1. Oxygen 2. Flammability 3. Toxic
Compare sampling results to the following acceptable entry conditions:
- oxygen level is below 19.5%
- oxygen level above 23.5%
- flammable gas levels exceed 10% of the Lower Flammable Limit (LEL)
- carbon monoxide levels above 25 ppm
- hydrogen sulfide (H2s) above 10 ppm
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) above 2 ppm
- Record sampling results on the entry form.
- It is recommended that the following readings be taken:
- Before ventilation
- After ventilation
- Initial entry survey
- Contact the Safety and Risk Management should there be issues with atmosphere testing.
The following equipment should be included, but not limited to:
- Air monitoring equipment (Oxygen, Lower Explosive Limit (LEL), Carbon Monoxide (CO),
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) at a minimum.
- Communication equipment
- Barriers and shields
- Ingress and egress equipment
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Manhole hook
- Forced air ventilating equipment
- Lighting equipment
- Traffic control equipment
- Fire Extinguisher
- First Aid Kit
Additional equipment required for PRCS entries:
- Rescue body harness
- Retrieval life line
- Retrieval tripod with personal wrench
- Personal air monitoring equipment
Note: All equipment shall be maintained and supervisors shall ensure that employees use
the equipment properly.
Confined Space Entry Procedures
- Determine if entry into the space is necessary.
- Identify possible hazards and control measures.
- Perform initial atmospheric testing.
- Determine if work to be carried out could create a hazard in the space.
- Determine which Entry Level is required. (Non-permit or Permit Required).
- Identify equipment and PPE needed for entry.
- Document entry plan by completing a Confined Space Entry Permit.
- Assemble all equipment.
- Erect barriers around opening if necessary.
- Provide traffic control if necessary.
Non-permit Confined Spaces
Persons desiring to enter a non-permit confined space shall:
- Inform their immediate supervisors of the confined space location and plans for entry.
- Never work alone. Provide at least one attendant for the duration of the entry operations.
- Have a means to summon assistance (cell phones, two-way radio, etc.).
- Guard or barricade entry opening to protect the safety of personnel, pedestrians and
motorists, if necessary.
- Test the atmosphere prior to entry with a calibrated, direct reading instrument for
a hazardous atmosphere.
- Record air monitoring results on the Confined Space Entry Permit.
- If a hazardous atmosphere is detected, the space must not be entered and the immediate
supervisor must be informed as soon as possible.
- Evaluate the space for engulfment, entrapment or any other serious safety or health
hazards. If any of these hazards are found, this space must not be entered and a supervisor
must be informed as soon as possible.
- Wear all required personal protective equipment (PPE) for the assigned task.
- Be observant of the effects of hazardous contaminants and evacuate if any are detected.
- When work is completed, return the space to original condition.
Permit Required Spaces
- Survey the confined space without entry and review the work to be performed. Identify
any existing or potential hazards.
- Determine if the work being performed will create a hazard in the confined space.
- Eliminate the physical hazards, if possible by:
- Lock out / tag out all sources of energy (steam, electrical, mechanical)
- Blanking and bleeding off pneumatic and hydraulic lines
- Clean and/or purge any chemical storage vessel
- Securing mechanically moving parts
- Assign all entry team members a specific role to serve with instructions.
- Determine communication between attendants and entrants.
- Perform initial atmospheric testing.
- Ventilate the space for a minimum of 5 minutes.
- Resample atmospheric conditions. Confirm that acceptable entry conditions are present.
If conditions are not acceptable, entry is not allowed.
- Continually ventilate the space by pushing air so that a positive pressure changes
the atmosphere over several times every hour.
- The atmosphere within the space shall be periodically tested as necessary to ensure
that the continuous forced air ventilation is preventing the accumulation of a hazardous
- Prior to entry into a confined space, an entry permit form shall be completed.
- Identity required equipment and PPE for entry.
- Assemble all equipment that is required for entry.
- Erect barriers around opening, if necessary.
- Provide Traffic control, if necessary.
- Enter space and check for hazards that may not have been detected.
- Under the following conditions, entrants must exit the confined space, re-evaluate
hazards and modify entry procedures:
- A hazardous atmosphere is detected after entry.
- If any health or safety hazards develops which was not anticipated.
- The attendant cannot effectively perform their duties.
- The entrants are experiencing symptoms from heat stress or over exposure to atmospheric
- When work is completed, return the space to original condition.
Note: Permits issued under the procedures in this program shall be limited in duration
to no longer than eight hours.
Under no circumstances shall unauthorized personnel enter a confined space to attempt
a rescue. At the present time there are no university employees authorized to perform
a confined space rescue.
Offsite Emergency Services
The Cullowhee Voluntary Fire Department will be dispatched to provide assistance on
confined space rescue. Jackson County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is responsible
for providing emergency medical treatment.
In case of an emergency, contact WCU Emergency Services by one of the following methods:
- Campus: 828-227-8911
- Campus: 911
- Radio: call Facilities Management base station and declare an emergency and assistance
To facilitate non-entry rescue, retrieval systems or methods shall be used whenever
an authorized entrant enters a permit space, unless the retrieval equipment would
increase the overall risk of entry or would not contribute to the rescue of the entrant.
- Each entrant shall use a body harness with a retrieval line attached. The other end
of the retrieval line shall be attached to a mechanical device for any vertical permit-required
space more than 5 feet deep.
- Wristlets are only used when a full body harness has been demonstrated infeasible
or creates a greater hazard and wristlet use is the safest and most effective alternative.
- Retrieval lines are attached to a mechanical device or fixed point outside the space
so rescue can begin immediately after the rescuer becomes aware that rescue is necessary.
- Mechanical devices are available to retrieve entrants from vertical type permit spaces
more than 5 feet deep.
- If an entrant is exposed to a substance that is required to have a have a Safety Data
Sheet (SDS), that information shall be given to the EMS personnel treating the entrant.
All entry supervisors, attendants, entrants are properly trained initially and refresher
training is provided when duties and space hazards change or whenever an evaluation
determines inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge.
The supervisor shall provide training so that all employees whose work is regulated
by this program with the necessary understanding, knowledge, and skills to safely
enter, work in, and exit from permitted spaces.
Specific training shall be provided to each affected employee:
- Before the employee is first assigned duties.
- Before there is a change in assigned duties.
- Whenever there is a change in permit space operations that presents a hazard about
which an employee has not previously been trained.
- Whenever the supervisor has reason to believe either that there are deviations from
the permit space entry procedures or that there are inadequacies in the employee’s
knowledge or use of these procedures.
The training shall establish employee proficiency in the required duties and shall
establish new or revised procedures, as necessary, for compliance with this program.
The supervisor shall certify that the training required has been accomplished. The
certification shall contain each employee’s name, signatures or initials of the trainers,
and training dates. The training certification is available for inspection by employees
and their authorized representatives.