UC Merced's Confined Space Entry Program exists to protect all employees from exposure to hazards while working in or near confined spaces.
Cal/OSHA defines a confined space in general industry as any type of space that (1) is large enough and configured such that an employee can bodily enter and perform work, (2) has limited openings for entry and exit, and/or (3) is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
With such a broad definition for a confined space, it is essenstial that employees be able to identify confined spaces and implement all necessary safety measures when working in and/or around confined spaces. For more information, see UC Merced's Confined Space Entry Program Manual.
Permit-Required Confined Spaces
Permit-required confined spaces (PRCSs), in general industry, are defined by Cal/OSHA as any type of space that meets all three of the characteristics outlined above in the program purpose section of this page, plus one or more of the following:
- Has a hazardous atmosphere, or the potential for a hazardous atmosphere — including too little or too much oxygen, and/or the presence of toxic or explosive gases or vapors (such as hydrogen sulfide or methane);
- Has a material that can — or potentially will — engulf an employee, such as grain, sand or sugar;
- Has an internal configuration (such as floors that slope downwards) that can — or potentially will — trap or asphyxiate employees;
- Has any other recognized serious safety or health hazards, such as machinery with moving parts, sources of electrical shocks, steam (burn hazard) or liquids (drowning and fire hazards).
Any space that meets the requirements for a PRCS must undergo thorough planning and consideration with regard to the potential hazards and precautions that must be taken before entry is permitted.