NIOSH Testimony on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Proposed Rule on Permit Required Confined Spaces by R. W. Niemeier, November 14, 1989.
This testimony summarized the position of NIOSH concerning the proposed rule of OSHA on confined space work. NIOSH does not recommend the routine entry of workers into confined spaces where unknown atmospheres, hazardous atmospheres, or immediately dangerous to life and health atmospheres exist at the time of entry. NIOSH recommends that, where possible, confined spaces by purged, ventilated, and monitored for safe atmospheric conditions before worker entry. If necessary to enter without taking these precautions, other precautions must be taken. Respiratory protection must be worn. Several factors must be considered before entry. Some of these factors are whether the size and shape of the space will interfere with the wearing or operation of the appropriate respiratory protection, whether the size and shape of the opening will prevent removing potential victims, whether a worker will have enough time to escape from the space in an emergency situation, whether the worker is furnished with an appropriate escape device in case the primary respiratory protective equipment fails, whether it is possible to maintain two way communication, and whether there are emergency procedures to cover escape from a confined space during emergency situations while wearing respirators.