Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered "confined" due to configurations that hinder the activities of employees entering, working in, or exiting the spaces. OSHA defines a confined space as any space that is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work, has a restricted means of entry or exit, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Examples of confined spaces include tanks, pits, certain tunnels, utility vaults, and boilers. In addition, there are many instances where employees who work in confined spaces face increased risk of exposure to serious hazards. In some cases, confinement poses entrapment hazards. In other cases, confined space work keeps employees closer to hazards, such as asphyxiating atmospheres or the moving parts of machinery. OSHA uses the term "permit required confined space" to describe those spaces that both meet the definition of confined space, and pose health or safety hazards.
Environmental Health and Safety has established resources for the WCMC community to permit safe work in and around confined spaces. These resources include written guidance, hazard assessments, and maintaining a confined space inventory. The confined space program must be referenced in accordance with other safe work practices including: use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), safe handling of hazardous materials, and isolation of energy sources (lock-out/tag-out).