What It Is

If you’re entering areas like crawlspaces and manholes, the OSHA’s Confined Space in Construction standard may apply to you.

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a federal agency that assures safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. Their standards apply to all employees, both governmental and private-sector.

Their Confined Space in Construction standard applies to any space that is:

  • large enough for a worker to enter:
  • has limited means of entry or exit:
  • is not designed for continuous occupancy.

OSHA’s Confined Space Fact Sheet has tips, written in simple language, for creating a plan to react when things go wrong.

Why It Matters

NPS maintenance and operations crews work in manholes, storage tanks, crawl spaces and other tight areas. While in these confined spaces they may be exposed to life-threatening hazards such as asphyxiation or electrocution.  Even if no hazard is present, they may have a heart attack or other health crisis while in the confined space. When crisis happens, do you have a plan for rescuing your co-worker?

Additional Information

  • By definition, a permit-required confined space has one or more of these characteristics:
    • Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere;
    • Contains a material with the potential to engulf someone who enters the space;
    • Has an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross section; and/or
    • Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazards.
  • Find more resources for creating a plan at OSHA’s Confined Space webpage.
  • Find training around the country in confined space and other safety topics through OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.


  • Does your work crew have a confined space rescue plan?

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