Policies & Procedures



Environment, Health, & Safety


Confined Spaces Policy

SOP Number: 6.002
Review Date: 12/14/2004
Replaces: 6.001
Reviewed by: Environmental Health Office

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910-146

  1. Purpose: The State University of New York College at Plattsburgh is dedicated to providing a safe work environment for its employees. This policy is to be followed by all departments when entering confined spaces.
  2. OSHA Definitions:
  • Authorized Entrant - Person specified on permit is qualified to enter the confined space for the time limit and purpose stated on the entry permit.
  • Attendant - Designated person whose sole duty is to monitor the entrant of a permit required confined space.
  • Confined - Has limited or restricted means of entry or exit, is large enough for an employee to enter and perform assigned work, and is not designated for continuous occupancy by the employee. These spaces may include but are not limited to, underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas, vessels, and silos. Confined Space tasks include; cleaning, painting, welding, scraping, performing repairs, or maintenance.

    College confined spaces include manholes, steam tunnels, crawl spaces, fan and duct systems, HTHW generators, tanks and drums. It becomes a permit- required confined space if, in addition, it presents or has the potential for any recognized serious hazard.
  • Entry Supervisor - Person responsible for successful completion of an assignment requiring the entry into a permit required confined space. The Supervisor will issue a permit for entry to a confined space upon satisfaction of all requirements. This title includes but is not limited to Maintenance Supervisor titles, Principal and Senior Stationary engineer, Watch Engineer.

    "One that meets the definition of a confined space and has one or more of these characteristics: (1) contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere, (2) contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant, (3) 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 small cross section, and/or (4) contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard"

Confined Spaces on the Campus of SUNY Plattsburgh

  1. Manholes - HTHW, signal, sewage, storm, electrical, condensate stations.
  2. HTHW generators
  3. Distribution tanks - domestic hot water, steam generator, condensate recovery tanks, and oil tanks
  4. HVAC air handling units
  5. Steam tunnels
  6. Crawl spaces
  7. Permit-Required Confined Spaces
    All of the identified confined spaces on campus have the potential to be "Permit-Required Confined Spaces." Each area holds the potential for risks that must be identified and evaluated by the Supervisor. All "Hot Work" - (welding or cutting) in any confined space requires a permit.
  8. Risks Associated With SUNY Plattsburgh Confined Spaces
    1. HTHW manholes and condensate manholes hold the risk of injury due to burning and scalding, heat prostration, asphyxiation.
    2. Signal and electrical manholes hold the risk of asphyxiation and electrical shock.
    3. Sewage and storm manholes hold the risk of engulfment and asphyxiation.
    4. HTHW generators hold the risk of burning, scalding, engulfment, heat prostration, and asphyxiation.
    5. Distribution tanks hold the potential for engulfment, asphyxiation, and burning and scalding, heat prostration.
    6. HV AC air handling units hold the risk of mechanical injury, burning and scalding.
    7. Steam tunnels hold the risk of burning and scalding, asphyxiation, heat prostration, and engulfment.
  9. Permit-Requlred Evaluation
    1. HTHW manholes and condensate manholes will be considered PERMIT - REQUIRED areas.
    2. Signal and electrical manholes will be considered PERMIT-REQUIRED if the atmosphere analysis shows readings in the alarm range or if all electrical power in the space can not be de-energized
    3. Sewage and storm manholes will be considered PERMIT-REQUIRED if the atmosphere analysis shows readings in the alarm range or if the flow to the manhole can not be stopped mechanically and locked out.
  10. Sewage station # 1 and the sub level of sewage station #2 will be considered permit-required spaces.
    1. HTHW generators will be considered PERMIT-REQUIRED areas.
    2. Distribution tanks will be considered PERMIT-REQUIRED areas.
    3. HVAC air-handling units will be considered PERMIT-REQUIRED until the power to energize the mechanical equipment in the unit is locked out. The valves supplying heated or cooled water to the coils must be valved off and tagged if a coil leak is suspected.
    4. Steam tunnels and pipe chases are normally confined spaces with the potential for becoming PERMIT-REQUIRED depending on atmosphere test results and possible mechanical problems.
    5. Elevator pits are considered PERMIT-REQUIRED confined spaces due to the mechanical dangers inherent with entry into this space.
  11. General Requirements
    1. In no case will less than two people be assigned to work in any confined space. One person will be stationed outside the confined space having the sole responsibility of monitoring the worker or workers in the confined space.
    2. Before entering any confined space in a vessel (such as a DHW tank, steam generator, H. T. generator or manhole) the atmosphere will be checked using the Eagle multi-gas detector. This detector is kept in the Environmental Health Office in the service building. The Environmental Health Officer is responsible for maintaining the detector. The entry supervisor will ensure that the entrant knows how to read and safely operate the gas detector being used.
    3. Entry into a confined space that holds risk potential shall be by permit only. The permit is an authorization and approval in writing that specifies the location and type of work to be done, and certifies that all existing hazards have been evaluated by the Supervisor, and necessary protective measures have been taken to insure the safety of each worker. The permit will only be good for one shift during times specified.
    4. All entrances to permit confined space shall be posted. Signs shall include but not be limited to the following information.




      All emergency and rescue equipment including portable generator, pumps, exhauster, manhole tripod and body harness, are stored in the third stall of the service building. Keys are kept at the warehouse and the central heating plant office.
    5. Emergencies: If at any time conditions indicate, or change, that make conditions in a confined space other than routine the following special procedures will be followed.
      1. Only those employees who are respirator certified will be given a permit to enter the permit required confined space.
      2. The supervisor and the Authorized Entrant will both sign off on the lockout/tag out for any equipment affecting the confined space.
      3. Entry will be by harness and tripod if vertical entry is required. The harness attached to a safety line will be required for all other entries.
      4. The proper respirator or a supplied air respirator will be worn where indicated.
      5. There must be someone readily available in the immediate area that is currently trained in CPR and basic first aid or the monitor must have access to communications with the Plattsburgh City F.D. Rescue Squad.
  12. Permit System
    1. Criteria: A permit signed by the entry supervisor and verifying that the following items have been met:
      1. Acceptable entry conditions
      2. The permit space has been isolated
      3. Purging, inerting, flushing, or ventilating the permit space as necessary to eliminate or control atmospheric hazards
      4. Providing pedestrian, vehicle, or other barriers as necessary to protect entrants from external hazards
      5. Verifying that conditions in the permit space are acceptable for entry throughout the duration of an authorized entry. The duration of entry permits must not exceed the time required to complete the assignment. The entry supervisor must terminate entry and cancel permits when an assignment has been completed or when new conditions exist. The cancelled permits must be sent to the Environmental Health Office.
    2. Required Information: Entry permits must be posted at point of entry and include the following information:
      • Test results;
      • Tester's initials or signature;
      • Name and signature of supervisor who authorizes entry;
      • Name of permit space to be entered, authorized entrant(s), eligible attendants, and individual(s) authorized to be entry supervisor(s) purpose of entry and known space hazards;
      • Measures, to be taken, to isolate permit spaces and to eliminate or control space hazards i.e. locking out or tagging of equipment and procedures for purging, making inert, ventilating, and flushing permit spaces;
      • Name and telephone numbers of rescue and emergency services;
      • Date and authorized duration of entry;
      • Acceptable entry conditions;
      • Communication procedures and equipment to maintain contact during entry;
      • Additional permit(s), such as for hot work, that have been issued to authorize work in the permit space;
      • Special equipment and alarm system; and
      • Any other information needed to ensure employee safety.
    3. Authorized Entrant's Duties
      • Know space hazards, including information on the mode of exposure (e.g., inhalation or dermal absorption), signs or symptoms, and consequences of the exposure
      • Use appropriate personal protective equipment properly (e.g. face and eye protection, and other forms of barrier protection such as gloves, aprons, and coveralls);
      • As necessary, maintain communication (i.e., telephone, radio, visual observation) with attendants to enable the attendant to monitor the entrant's status as well as to alert the entrant to evacuate;
      • Exit from permit space as soon as possible when ordered by an authorized person, when the entrant recognizes the warning signs or symptoms of exposure exists, when a prohibited condition exist, or when an automatic alarm is activated and;
      • Alert the attendant when a prohibited condition exists or when warning signs or symptoms of exposure exist;
    4. Attendant's Duties
      • Remain outside permit space during entry operations unless relieved by another authorize attendant;
      • Know existing and potential hazards, including information on the mode of exposure, signs or symptoms, consequences of the exposure, and their physiological effects;
      • Maintain communication with and keep and accurate account of those workers entering the permit-required space;
      • Order evacuation of the permit space when a prohibited condition exists, when a worker shows signs of physiological effects of hazard exposure, when an emergency outside the confined space exists, and when the attendant cannot effectively and safely perform required duties;
      • Summon rescue and other services during an emergency;
      • Ensure that unauthorized persons stay away from permit spaces or exit immediately if they have entered the permit space;
      • Inform authorized entrants and entry supervisor of entry by unauthorized persons; and
      • Perform no other duties that interfere with the attendant's primary duties.
    5. Entry Supervisor Duties
      • Know space hazards including information on the mode of exposure, signs, or symptoms and consequences of exposure;
      • Verify emergency plans and specified entry conditions such as permits, tests, procedures, and equipment before allowing entry;
      • Terminate entry and cancel permits when entry operations are completed or if a new condition exists;
      • Take appropriate measures to remove unauthorized entrants; and
      • Ensure that operations remain consistent with the entry permit and that acceptable entry conditions are maintained.

Contact Information

Cathleen Eldridge, Associate Director
Office: Sibley Hall 421
Phone: 564-5009
Fax: 564-5082
Email: eldridcm@plattsburgh.edu