Confined Space Program

Welding in a confined space;

Confined spaces may contain hazards that can injure workers or quickly lead to death. Untrained and ill-equipped rescuers can easily become victims themselves. UW departments, supported by EH&S, must follow the requirements of the Confined Space Program to ensure personnel working in or near confined spaces are protected from harm.

The Confined Space Program applies to any UW department that has space(s) that may potentially be hazardous when entered. A confined space is one configured so that a person can fully enter and work, but is not designed for continuous human occupancy and has restricted or limited means of entry or exit.

Examples of confined spaces at UW may include, but aren't limited to:

  • Boilers

  • Sewers

  • Vessels and tanks

  • Attics, plenums and crawlspaces

  • Storage bins

  • Lift stations

  • Utility vaults

  • Air handling units

  • Sumps and pits

  • Cooling towers

  • Excavations

  • Tunnels and pipelines

Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS) may contain a hazardous atmosphere, engulfment hazards or other hazards, such as electrical, mechanical and fall from a height. These spaces require entry permits that address the hazards, mitigations and required approvals.

Hazards may also be introduced by activities performed inside the space. Use of chemicals, painting, cleaning, grinding or sanding all create atmospheric hazards that can cause injury or illness without adequate ventilation or other controls. Hot work (e.g., welding, cutting, grinding, or brazing) in a confined space may release toxic gases and fumes.

Elements of the Confined Space Program

The University’s Confined Space Program includes:

If a department or contractor needs to enter a confined space, they must contact the Confined Space Owner for more information about the space.

What you need to know

What you can do to stay safe

Always be current with your confined space training and ask questions if unsure about any hazards in a confined space, hazards introduced from doing work in a confined space, entry procedures or potential problems that may occur.

  • Never enter a confined space if you are unsure of the hazards, procedures and equipment, or if you feel ill.
  • As an Entrant, communicate with the Entry Supervisor and/or Attendant(s) about the status of your work in the confined space and how you feel.
  • Understand and communicate to others not to enter spaces that are posted with PRCS signage.
  • If you suspect a space meets the definition of a PRCS (see definition below), do not enter the space. Notify your supervisor.

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Services available

Wind tunnel outside Aerospace & Engineering Research Building

EH&S provides the following services:

  • Training for employees who may enter a PRCS
  • Assists departments/units/organizations with developing, maintaining and improving their confined space entry procedures
  • Assists departments with air monitoring and testing of unusual contaminants or situations

More information

Frequently asked questions