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ESTIMATING CONFINED SPACE

OSHA requires employers to have a written program for confined space entries. OSHA’s standard for confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146) contains the requirements for practices and procedures to protect employees in general industry from the hazards of entering permit spaces.

When workers are working in a confined space, it will require time and additional equipment.

The following information is taken from OSHA’s publication 3138

By definition, a confined space:

  1. Is large enough for an employee to enter fully and perform assigned work;
  2. Is not designed for continuous occupancy by the employee; and
  3. Has a limited or restricted means of entry or exit.

These spaces may include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, pits and diked areas, vessels, silos and other similar areas.

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;

  •  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.

Note: To get contact information for OSHA Area Offices, OSHA approved State Plans and OSHA Consultation Projects, you can visit them online at www.osha.gov or call them at 1-800-321-0SHA.

The estimator must recognize and identify the work areas that are subject to Confined Space safety regulations. Not every Confined Space is considered equal. Do not assume that confined space is a small space. The following hazards should help in identifying areas that may require a permit:

  1. Hazardous atmospheres
  2. Oxygen-deficient
  3. Flammable atmospheres
  4. Toxic atmospheres
  5. Physical hazards:

High decibel areas

Moving equipment

Slipping and/or tripping

Extreme temperatures

Potential for shifting or collapse

Here are some possible confined spaces where electricians may have to perform electrical tasks:

  1. Utility vaults
  2. Boilers
  3. Manholes
  4. Elevator pits
  5. Ditches
  6. Excavated areas where ductbanks are being installed.  Depending on depth and access

All labor, training, and equipment that is required for confined space installations, must be included in the estimate. If confined space equipment is not owned by the contractor, then rental costs should be included in the final proposal.

This will include, but not limited to the following:

  1. Labor for the electrical work in the confined space
  2. Increased labor factor due to the degree of difficulty of the work
  3. Labor for attendant outside the space
  4. Labor for testing, setting up, and required paperwork
  5. Proper confined space training for all personnel. First Aid, CPR, etc.
  6. Retrieval equipment
  7. Air monitoring equipment
  8. Ventilation equipment
  9. MSDS information for any substance in the space

Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, but quality estimating is profitable.

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