Industrial worker wearing breathing aperatus descending into a storage tank.
Get in Easily. Get out Safely.

Always be Rescue Ready

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Confined Space Safety

What is a confined space?

  • Confined spaces present some of the most challenging environments for health and safety professionals. From potentially toxic atmospheres, to physically hazardous conditions such as extreme temperatures, unstable materials, or the potential for falls, confined spaces often present unseen challenges. Creating and maintaining a safe jobsite with Confined Spaces depends on having correct, current information.

    Confined Spaces are areas that are: ​

    • Large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs AND​
    • Limited or restricted means for entry or exit AND
    • Not designed for continuous occupancy (not necessarily designed for people)

Confined spaces. Unique challenges.

No two confined spaces are exactly alike. Type, size and hazards vary greatly, along with different standards, regulations and company policies that can apply to each working environment.

  • Worker in protective respiratory gear, coveralls and hard hat looking up from confined space
    Common types of confined spaces

    Safely handling entries and exits starts with identifying your work spaces:

    • Storage tanks
    • Culverts
    • Tunnels
    • Elevator shafts
    • Ductwork
    • Trench box
    • Utility vaults
  • Workers in protective gear using a confined space entry davit.
    Where they are found

    Working safely in confined spaces is universal, but different industries present their own challenges:

    • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
    • Chemical manufacturing
    • Food and beverage manufacturing
    • Oil and gas
    • Waste water treatment
  • Worker descending into a confined space storage tank wearing protective gear and breathing aparatus.
    Hazards workers face

    Each year, an average of 96 deaths occur within confined spaces in the United States alone:

    Physical Hazards (61% of deaths):

    • Heat
    • Impact
    • Falls
    • Engulfment


    Atmospheric Hazards (34% of deaths):

    • Oxygen deficiency
    • Toxic chemicals
    • Combustible dust


Developing a Confined Space Plan

Be ready before getting to work, so your team can safely handle all entries and exits.

  • Four panels showing illustrations of workers preparing for and entering a confined space.

    Infographic: Four steps of a plan

    Before working in a confined space, always start with:

    • A site evaluation
    • Identification of proper safety equipment and other required tools
    • A trained rescue team that has developed a pre-planning program
    • Certified training that involves practice and hands-on experience for all parties who will work in and around a confined space

    Plan, Access, Work Inside, and Rescue & Retrieval: Learn what they mean and how to address each step.

Confined Space Products

Trust your team and your tools. Workers must have adequate preparation and experience in the work involved to function safely in confined spaces.

How do I plan and prepare to enter?

For help with permit and non permit required confined space entry - evaluate considerations for entering a confined space.

Key Elements of a Confined Space Plan

  • 1. Plan
    2. Access
    3. Work Inside
    4. Rescue & Retrieval

  • An image of Rick Argudin, Senior Trainer for 3M safety training

    Every year people are overcome by hazards while working in confined spaces. In this video, Rick Argudin, 3M Senior Safety Trainer, examines some of the basic equipment that is needed for confined space entry, retrieval and rescue.


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Confined Space Videos

Many health and safety challenges are associated with confined spaces. We’re here to help with a comprehensive collection of videos

  • You’ve selected the right equipment. See how to use it before stepping on the job.

  • Growing library for all roles and responsibilities in and around a confined space