This case involved an industrial laundry company which uses continuous batch washers (CBW) which were correctly defined as a Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS). During an OSHA inspection, the Compliance Officer (CO) took issue with the facility’s rescue plan from a CBW. After reading this case, I too took issue with their rescue plan; however, since the secretary was unable to explain the rescue requirements effectively, the citation(s) regarding rescue (k) were vacated! The main point of this citation was that the local FD was the “rescuer”; however, they were NOT qualified for “entry rescue” and the facility claimed the FD would cut a hole in the side of the CBW and perform rescue!?!?!?!?! This is hogwash, and this “rescue technique” was never practiced, yet the OSHRC did not see it this way. The FD and facility both admitted that if "entry rescue" was needed that two (2) other FD’s about 30 minutes away would have to be called and neither of these FDs had visited the site or performed any evaluation of the site and the site had never evaluated them. Yet again, the OSHRC vacated the citation(s).  Here is the discussion...

This OSHRC case involved laundry company who uses industrial sized washing machines which are correctly classified as a Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS).  The facility was inspected by OSHA and the CSHO discovered that the calibration gas used to calibrate the direct reading meter that would be used for testing the atmosphere inside the continuous batch washers (CBW) has expired 18 months earlier.  The OSHRCS affirmed the citation.

Item 3 alleges a repeat violation of 29 C.F.R. § 1910.146(d)(4)(i), which states that an employer must:

(4) Provide the following equipment (specified in paragraphs (d)(4)(i) through (d)(4)(ix) of this section) at no cost to employees, maintain that equipment properly, and ensure that employees use that equipment properly: (i) Testing and monitoring equipment needed to comply with paragraph (d)(5) of this section.

I often review the OSHRC decisions to better learn the “legal” side of OSHA compliance and most of the time I find that the Review Commission is pretty much a straight shooter when it comes to applying OSHA standards. But there are times when I close my computer as if I just saw a ghost after reading some of their rationale! Sometimes it is OSHA’s fault for poorly explaining the intent of their own standard and sometimes the commission just gets it wrong for legal reasons and sometimes I just don’t know what the heck happened. In this case, I truly believe a judge who most likely has never been involved in evaluating or isolating a PRCS made a horrible decision based on parsing the definition of “isolation” in 1910.146…

Over the past two weeks, I have had two training sessions (Safety for PSM Managers and a BLR on-line Webinar on PRCS Rescue Requirements and Best Practices) where I was asked about "dock levelers" and OSHA's position on them as a "Permit-Required Confined Space" (PRCS) and this week we saw a worker lose his life under a "dock leveler".  So I figured it must be a topic that needs some discussion...

Disclaimer:  I am NOT an expert on dock levelers nor have I ever issued an entry permit to enter one or "reclassified" one using (c)(7), but I do know a thing or two about CS's/PRCS's and I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last week. 

In 2002 OSHA issued a Letter of Interpretation (LOI) where they walked through a CS Assessment and then through a PRCS assessment and came to the conclusion that based on the information provided to them by the organization asking the question that under their "dock leveler" was indeed a PRCS.  OSHA then went on to explain how these spaces could be entered using (c)(7). But there's more to the story...

  1. Failure of the Entry Supervisor to "verify rescue services are available" leads to an OSHA Willful Citation of $126,749 (Railcar & $204K)

  2. Changing the configuration of a space may also require a different energy isolation plan

  3. This “man-sized” door does NOT eliminate “limited means of egress”

  4. Clarifying the "continuous employee occupancy" confined space definition

  5. OSHA issues PRCS and LOTO citations @ paper mill ($101K)

  6. Why cooling towers should be considered PRCS's

  7. OSHA issues Construction PRCS citations @ FL manhole triple fatalities (H2S & $119K)

  8. The creation of a Confined Space... from construction to general industry

  9. Permit-Required Confined Space Alert - Hopper (MSHA)

  10. OSHA's First Year Enforcement Activities for Confined Spaces in Construction

  11. Contractor doing a PRCS Rescue Evaluation (1910.146(k) & 1926.1211)

  12. BSEE Safety Bulletin No. 003 - Mud/Gas Separator Cleaning Results in PRCS Death

  13. When contractors enter a host's PRCSs (1910.146(c)(8)(iii)

  14. Construction Companies learning that PRCS Rescue is not a walk in the park (1926.1211)

  15. Purdue University releases their 2016 Ag Confined Space Fatality Report

  16. Development of a Confined Space Risk Analysis and Work Categorization Tool (IRSST - Canadian)

  17. Isolating a Permit-Required Confined Space (1910.146(d)(3)(iii)

  18. OSHA's take on Atmospheric Hazards inside Permit-Required Confined Spaces

  19. 2016 OSHA PRCS activity by Industry Sectors

  20. Technological advances in Process Safety and Permit-Required Confined Space Entries

  21. Confined Space Fatality Alert - Unloading rail car

  22. Confined Space Alert - Collapse of floating roof in storage tank (WorkSafe Victoria)

  23. Tampa Bay FD reviews their CS Rescue protocols after Key Largo TRIPLE fatality incident

  24. OSHA issues Construction PRCS citations (Sewer Entry & $152K)

  25. Permit-Required Confined Spaces and Exposure Records Retention

  26. OSHA issues PRCS citations @ transformer manufacturer ($43K; 2 fatalities - 1 entrant and 2 "would be rescuers")

  27. WA-OSHA has published their DRAFT - Confined Spaces in Construction and it is AWESOME

  28. OSHA issues grain bin entry and LOTO Citations @ farmer-owned cooperative ($411K, Egregious Willful)

  29. General Industry vs. Construction on Permit-Required Confined Space Citations (OSHRC)

  30. OSHA cites a contractor $203K for a PRCS fatality and it flies under the radar

  31. Cal/OSHA has cited a metal processing company $73,105 for serious PRCS violations

  32. OSHA cites contractor under new Construction Confined Space Standard

  33. OSHA PRCS Citations on Reclassification with Combustible Coal Dust ($20K)

  34. USGC Marine Safety Information Bulletin - Enclosed Space Entry and Rescue Drills

  35. PRCS Entry Supervisor and Rescue verification has changed with 1926.1210

  36. OSHA's new Fact Sheet on PRCS Rescue - Is 911 your Confined Space Rescue Plan?

  37. Does “emergency services” mean “rescue service” in OSHA’s new PRCS standard for Construction?

  38. OSHA issues PRCS Citations @ food cannery($143K, Willful, Repeats)

  39. OSHA issues PRCS (Construction) Citations @ WWTP (PRCS, Pressure Testing & $85K)

  40. OSHA PRCS citations @ railcar cleaning facility (O2 Deficiency & $226K)
  41. OSHA PRCS Citations @ food plant (Acetic Acid/Vinegar & $79K)

  42. 2016 Ohio BWC PRCS Rescue Presentation (1910.146(k)

  43. OSHA PRCS citations @ Concrete Plant ($140,000)

  44. Does 1910.146 allow (c)(5) AND (c)(7) to be used on the same PRCS at the same time? (Part 2)

  45. OSHA S&H Bulletin - Hazards when Purging Hydrogen Gas-Cooled Electric Generators (SHIB 01-22-2016)

  46. Does 1910.146 allow (c)(5) AND (c)(7) to be used on the same PRCS at the same time?

  47. Temporary Enforcement Policy for Residential Construction Work in Confined Spaces (1/2016)
  48. Real Life Accident: Chief Mate Dies From Asphyxiation
  49. Tough start for PRCS Fatalities into OSHA's 2016
  50. Confined Space Standards Side-by-Side Comparison Chart (OSHA Directorate of Construction)
  51. 2015 OSHA PRCS activity by Industry Sectors
  52. Employee Is Killed When Asphyxiated In Oil Storage Tank (PRCS - Issues with five minute escape pack)
  53. Scaffolder falls from height in a process vessel at a refinery - fatal
  54. NFPA 350, Table A.10.9.1 may be the MOST IMPORTANT Confined Space document published in 2015
  55. NFPA 350: Best Practices Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work (Effective 12/4/15)
  56. Why OSHA states "entry" has taken place as soon as ANY PART of your body breaks the plane
  57. PRCS "program reviews" under 1910.146(13) & (14) (OSHRC decision)
  58. OSHRC decision on PRCS Tanker Truck Willfuls 
  59. IN-OSHA PRCS citations @ Power Plant inside pulverizer (Combustible Dusts $20K)

  60. MSHA's special initiative on Confined Spaces

  61. Temporary Enforcement Policy for Residential Construction Work in Confined Spaces

  62. Is "competence" for doing a CS evaluation = to "competence" for doing a RECLASSIFICATION
  63. Confined Space Evaluations and a "competent person"
  64. OSHA PRCS citations @ Railcar Cleaning business (Flammable Atmosphere & $963,000)
  65. The five (5) KEY differences between PRCSs in GI and Construction and the added provisions that CLARIFY 1910.146 requirements (OSHA)
  66. OSHA publishes Confined Spaces: Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces - Small Entity Compliance Guide (OSHA 3825)
  67. The process of isolating a PRCS
  68. When is entry rescue required and when is non-entry rescue required for entries into Permit-Required Confined Spaces
  69. How many confined spaces do you see?
  70. Would you be an entrant? (PRCS isolation)
  71. Side-by-Side comparison of OSHA's PRCS Standards
  72. PRCS energy isolation methods and locking/tagging
  73. Questions for those in General Industry work places about when the new Construction Confined Space standard would apply
  74. OSHA issues temporary enforcement policy for confined spaces in construction (OSHA)

  75. Comparing OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction standard (1926.1201-.1212) to the General Industry Standard (1910.146)

  76. Can you name ALL the "documentation" one would need to demonstrate FULL compliance with 1910.146?

  77. NFPA 350 Guide to Confined Space Entry and Work coming in November (NFPA)

  78. Why is 1910.146(j)(4) INVISIBLE in most every PRCS Entry Program/Procedure?
  79. On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities Involving Confined Spaces, 2003 – 2012 (NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division)
  80. How do you comply with debriefing contractors after they exit your PRCS?
  81. OSHA issues PRCS Citations @ food tanker cleaning facility ($179K)
  82. Fatal Hotwork Explosion on Barge (USCG)
  83. Investigation of PRCS Flash Explosion and Injuries (BSEE)
  84. Labeling Permit Required Confined Spaces may not be as simple as some would believe
  85. OSHA issues PRCS citations after two workers died in Railcar with H2S
  86. WA-OSHA citations after worker, 19, dies inside "bark blower" truck
  87. UK’S HSE updates their “Safe work in confined spaces” Guidance
  88. OSHA PRCS citations involving Tanker Truck @ a producer and distributor of food products ($30K)
  89. OSHA PRCS citations involving Rail Car cleanout ($188K)
  90. OSHRC affirms PRCS citations (Preventing Unauthorized entry and Rescue)
  91. How can one argue that a large roll-off trash compactor is not a PRCS?
  92. Getting in is ALWAYS easier than getting out! (Video)
  93. OSHA cites a Grain Elevator for 1 willful, 2 repeat, 8 serious violations ($120,120)
  94. Safety Bulletin - Entry of a confined space on board a cargo ship resulting in three fatalities (Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)
  95. Oregon OSHA – Proposed Changes to Confined Spaces Standard for General Industry and Construction
  96. Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies During Attempted Rescue of Utility Worker From a Confined Space (NIOSH FACE)
  97. Confined Space Flash Fire (Tank NOT connected!)
  98. Cal/OSHA Cites an industrial service provider $82,090 for Accident in Confined Space that Seriously Injured Worker
  99. Off-Gassing Hazard from Wood Pellets and Chips (The Annals of Occupational Hygiene)
  100. OR-OSHA HAZARD ALERT: Confined Spaces – Winery Vessels
  101. OSHA cites concrete company after temporary worker fatality inside PRCS (Failure to LOTO and $303,900)
  102. ASU’s (Air Separation Units) Nitrogen Fatality
  103. Calibrating and Testing Direct-Reading Portable Gas Monitors (OSHA Bulletin)
  104. OSHA cites concrete company for 10 violations after worker fatally engulfed in fly-ash silo
  105. Confined Space Rescue GUIDANCE that should be taken to heart (WorkSafe BC)
  106. Confined Space Isolation GUIDANCE that should be taken to heart (WorkSafe BC)
  107. OSHRC rules on "off-site" PRCS Rescue Services
  108. Trucking company cited by OSHA for asphyxiation hazards following worker fatality (PRCS and $113K)
  109. NFPA 350 - Preliminary Draft of Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work is Open for Public Input
  110. OR-OSHA Alert: Confined Spaces – Winery Vessels
  111. OSHRC on Permit Required Confined Spaces
  112. Paint Maker Dies from Exposure to Methylene Chloride While Cleaning a Paint Tank (California FACE Report #11CA009)
  113. OR-OSHA Delays Construction CS Standards
  114. Not designed to be occupied (Oregon OSHA’s guide to confined space safety)
  115. Cal/OSHA Cites Employers for Worker’s Death in Confined Space
  116. Confined Space Barriers (video product demo)
  117. FREE PRCS video from NY Dept of Labor
  118. Worker & FF die in sewer manhole (NY-FACE)
  119. Large rolloff type TRASH COMPACTORS are PRCS's
  120. OSHA cites industrial cleaning contractor after worker dies while cleaning storage tank at a chemical manufacturer
  121. OSHA issues PRCS citations to Brewery ($88,000)
  122. Drowning in PRCS (TN-OSHA #24-2008)
  123. PRCS Fatality - acute heptane and toluene toxicity (TN-OSHA Fatality II #4 2010)
  124. Verifying rescue services are "available" BEFORE entry
  125. MSHA HAZARD ALERT - Working in Confined Spaces
  126. NIOSH investigation of Dairy Plant Inspectors and Permit Required Confined Space's
  127. 11 Serious and 2 willful violations regarding confined spaces
  128. The infamous Phoenix FD Toluene Tank PRCS Rescue Fatality
  129. Oregon OSHA - Adopted Changes for the Confined Space Standard
  130. Grain Bin Accidents Still a Major Problem, Says Safety Specialist
  131. How fast does my PRCS Rescue Service have to respond?
  132. Monitoring PRCS Atmospheres and Entrants Rights
  133. Discussing the three (3) criteria that makes a space a Confined Space
  134. PRCS Reclassification Flow Chart  Edit     CAUGHT IN THE GRAIN!
  135. February 6th, 2012 PRCS Fatality in 30" Pipe
  136. Confined Space Emergency Response: Assessing Employer and Fire Department Practices (Cal-Berkley)
  137. Is a Roll-Off Trash Compactor a PRCS?
  138. Important Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards Study
  139. Entering a Cone of Safety (PRCS Safety Tips)
  140. CS Ventilation Straight Edge Tool
  141. WorkSafeBC has amended their PRCS Std... all agencies need to do this
  142. Using 1910.146(c)(7) as your entry method into a Permit-Required Confined Space
  143. Using 1910.146(c)(5) as your entry method into a Permit-Required Confined Space
  144. OSHA explains their expectations for RESCUE from permit-required confined spaces (1910.146(k)
  145. CS Rescue... Tripods and Winches and a false sense of security
  146. Creating a Permit-Required Confined Space
  147. Would your rescue plans pass an OSHA Inspection?
  148. PRCS Fatality News Account
  149. PRCS Multiple Fatality Incident
  150. PLEASE EVALUATE your CS Rescue Service!
  152. Sweating the SMALL stuff in CS Entry can make a BIG difference
  153. CONFINED SPACE FATALITY – Oxygen Deficiency from Nitrogen Purge
  154. PRCS Multiple Fatality Incident - 1 entrant and 3 "would be rescuers"
  155. Why does Confined Space and High Angle Rescue go hand in hand?
  156. The MUST SEE confined space video - REAL LIFE TRAGEDY
  157. Testing a PRCS atmosphere VIDEO
  158. Confined Spaces: Test to Live
  159. No Escape: Dangers of Confined Spaces
  160. Retaining CS Entry Permits
  161. One MAJOR flaw in the use of Combustible Gas meters that ALL users should know
  162. Confined Space Non-Entry Rescue
  163. OSHA cites 5 companies for PRCS violations that lead to a dust flash fire and H2S exposures
  164. Using my local FD as my PRCS Rescue Team
  165. Entry vs. Non-Entry Rescue
  166. Important Confined Space Atmospheric Hazards - Study Do you think wood chips and logs in a ship container hold could produce an IDLH atmosphere?
  167. Does exceeding the PEL make the atm a hazardous atm?
  168. Reclassifying a permit required confined space
  169. Evaluating a Confined Space
  170. Confined Space Hazards that are to be considered
  171. Isolation for Reclassification of PRCSs
  172. Evaluating Confined Spaces
  173. Making sense of entry options under OSHA's PRCS Entry Std. 1910.146
  174. A Purdue University report showed 51 grain bin accidents last year

I have written repeatedly about Confined Space rescue requirements and the problems with using off-site rescue teams, specifically referencing the requirement of 1910.146(j)(4)... 

Duties of entry supervisors. The employer shall ensure that each entry supervisor:


1910.146(j)(4) Verifies that rescue services are available and that the means for summoning them are operable;

Now it seems that OSHA is getting serious about this requirement as they have issued a WILLFUL citation for $126,749 for the facility's failure to meet this requirement.  Here are the other PRCS, Flammable Liquids, HAZCOM, and First-aid related citations issued:

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