>  Confined Spaces—from the inside out

This article first appeared on OH&S and is reprinted with permission. Read the original article on Occupaitonal Health & Safety online at https://ohsonline.com/Home.aspx. 

Confined spaces exist in nearly every industry, and many workers come into contact with at least one during the course of their work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 90 deaths involving confined spaces occur every year across a wide range of industries. Unfortunately, two-thirds of those deaths are workers killed while trying to rescue someone else from a confined space. This is often due to the critical nature of these rescues, which sometimes lead to poorly planned retrieval attempts. 

Many workers and employers are unaware of the dangers confined spaces pose, which include:

  • Lack of oxygen
  • Poisonous gas, fume, or vapor 
  • Liquids and solids suddenly filling the confined space or releasing gases into it when disturbed
  • Fire and explosions
  • Residues left behind that can give off gas, fume, or vapor
  • Hot working conditions

  • Falling objects
  • Moving parts of equipment and machinery
  • Electrical shock resulting from defective extension cords, welding cables, etc.
  • Poor visibility
  • Substances entering through piping such as gases, hot substances, or water


Very often, injuries and deaths occur as a result of work being carried out in a confined space, such as welding, painting, flame cutting, or using chemicals.

Craig Firl, North America Technical Services Manager, and Rick Argudin, Senior Trainer specializing in confined space training, teamed up to write this need-to-know article. It is imperative to get the adequate training, to select the proper equipment, and to practice entering, exiting, and performing simulated rescues. This article outlines what you should know when it comes to confined space—from the inside out.

3M Fall Protection combines the products and expertise of DBI-SALA® and Protecta® with the technology and innovation of 3M to elevate safety to new heights and keep workers comfortable, confident and safe every time they climb. See our products and services at 3M.com/FallProtection.
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