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Confined Spaces Fact Sheet


OSHA defines a confined space as an area, which has:

  1. adequate size and configuration for employee entry;
  2. has limited means of access or egress; and
  3. is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.

Confined spaces are classified as either "non-permit required confined spaces" or "permit required confined spaces." OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space) to describe those spaces that both meet the definition of "confined space" and pose health or safety hazards. A hazard assessment needs to be conducted and documented in order to classify a confined space.

The OSHA Standard "Permit Required Confined Spaces" (1910.146) requires that employees be protected from life threatening hazards associated with entry into confined spaces.

A Permit Required Confined Space contains or has the potential to contain one or more of the following hazards:

  • Atmospheric hazards: Oxygen enrichment or deficiency, flammable /explosive vapors or gases, or toxic vapors and gases.
  • Engulfment hazards: Materials within the space that could engulf entrant(s)
  • Internal configuration hazards: Spaces whose internal configuration (inwardly converging walls) could trap or asphyxiate entrant(s).
  • Other recognized serious safety or health hazards.

Applicable University Policy

VI-15.00(A) - UMD Policy On Confined Space Plan

Applicable Regulations

  • 29 CFR 1910.146 - Permit Required Confined Spaces
  • 29 CFR 1910.147 - Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)
  • 29 CFR 1910.120(c)(3). Hazardous Work- Hazard Identification
  • 29 CFR 1910.252 Subpart Q - Welding, Cutting, and Brazing
  • 29 CFR 1910.269 - Electrical Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution, Electrical Protective Equipment

Summary of Requirements

  • Prior to entering into a confined space, a hazard assessment shall be conducted to determine if the space is permit or non-permit required.
  • Employees must be informed if their worksite contains permit spaces by an effective mean of communication (e.g. training, signs, etc.). They must be informed of the existence and location of a danger posed by the permit space.
  • Based on the hazard evaluation, follow the permit system if the confined space is classified as permit-required confined space. Entry operations into these spaces require a trained entry team.
  • Comply with the written UMD Confined Spaces Program;
  • Rescue and emergency services (rescue services for the College Park Campus are provided by Prince George's County Fire Department - Technical Rescue Team)


Employees associated with entry into confined spaces are required to be trained before any entry is performed into a confined space. The training addresses hazards associated with the spaces and specific hazards contained in the workplace. In addition, the employees must be trained in entry requirements established by the UMD Policy on Confined Space Plan (VI-15.00(A)). Training for UMD employees is conducted through the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (ESSR) or the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI). Annual refresher training is required for emergency rescue personnel. Refresher training is required if there is a change in permit space operations that presents a hazard on which an employee has not previously been trained, or whenever a supervisor has reasons to believe that there are inadequacies in the employee's knowledge or use of UMD entry procedures.


Immediately notify ESSR of any accident involving a confined space. In the event of a fatality or incident resulting in the hospitalization of three or more people, ESSR will notify MOSH within 8 hours.


Inspections associated with hazards of confined space entry are required prior to and during entry.


Records of permit required entries and documentation of required training are required to be sent to ESSR.

Written Program

The employer must develop and implement provision of a written Confined Space Plan

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax No.    (301) 314-9294
ESSR Website:

Written 5/98
Revised 5/05

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