Someone wearing a helmet standing inside of a trench box, shoveling dirt.

What Equipment Is Required for Confined Space Work?

Confined spaces, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), are any space or area with limited or restricted means of entry or exit and are not designed to be continuously occupied by an inhabitant. Examples of confined spaces include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, vaults, pits, tunnels, and manholes.

To successfully enter a confined space to perform any work, you need special tools known as confined space retrieval equipment.

Confined Space Work Equipment

Due to the hazards involved in entering, occupying, or exiting a confined space, the use of specialized tools like confined space rescue equipment, confined space entry equipment, confined space safety equipment, and more are required to ensure the safety and success of the project. Click any of the links below to learn more:




Types of Protective Equipment Required


The hazards in confined spaces are quite numerous, and this means there are several kinds of protective equipment used in such spaces.


Below are some examples of the type of protective equipment your team should have:


Respiratory Protection


The oxygen level in confined spaces is typically low, and the little oxygen present could be mixed with toxic gases. The use of proper respiratory protection is vital when entering any confined space.


Below are three (3) types of respiratory protection you may use:


Types of Respiratory Protection Equipment


  • Air-purifying respirators (APRs): This helps to filter contaminants from the air
  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA): This tool serves as a self-contained air supply to aid breathing in confined spaces.
  • Supplied-air respirators (SARs): Supplied-air respirators are similar to self-contained breathing apparatuses, except for the fact that they get their clean air from an external source.


The Importance of Proper Selection, Fit Testing, and Maintenance of Respiratory Equipment


It is important to note that if respiratory protective equipment (RPE) does not fit a worker well due to any reason, such as facial shapes or extra accessories, then that worker is not protected.


Maintenance is also a critical part of proper respiratory protection. A well-maintained RPE is guaranteed to protect your worker from adverse atmospheric conditions as long as the right rig is selected.


Emergency Escape Breathing Devices (EEBDs)


It is not uncommon for workers to require emergency escape strategies during emergency situations in confined spaces. Emergency Escape Breathing Devices (EEBDs) work as effective backup breathing options during confined space emergencies. We recommend that your workers receive proper training on how to use EEBDs during emergencies.

Trench Safety Equipment
PRS: Personnel Retrieval System

At Sunbelt Rentals, this personnel retrieval system allows the worker to be tied off and safety connected when working underground or in difficult to access areas. Davit arms allow a worker to be suspended or anchored while working below surface. Click to learn more.

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Fall Protection Systems


One of the major hazards associated with working in confined spaces, especially vertical confined spaces, is fall hazards. Falls within confined spaces can be highly dangerous or even fatal, which is why using fall protection equipment is critical to ensuring safety.


Types of Fall Protection Systems


Below are three (3) common types of fall protection systems:


  • Harnesses and lifelines: Harnesses and lifelines are great for preventing falls and facilitating rescue operations involving confined spaces.
  • Retractable lifelines: Retractable lifelines are designed to allow restricted freedom of movement while ensuring safety from falls.
  • Tripods and davit systems: Tripods and davit systems help provide anchoring points during rescues.


Hazardous Atmosphere Detection Devices


It is impossible to talk about confined spaces and not discuss hazardous atmospheres. The restrictive nature of confined spaces with little to no space for fresh air typically breeds dangerous atmospheres, which is why it is necessary to always monitor the atmospheric conditions of confined spaces using hazardous atmosphere detection devices or confined space air monitoring equipment. These devices help to detect the presence of harmful gases or the lack of sufficient oxygen.


Types of Detection Devices


  • Multi-gas monitors: Multi-gas monitors help detect various gases simultaneously. This atmosphere monitoring equipment is good for confined spaces with suspected gaseous elements.
  • Oxygen deficiency monitors: This device is simply used to monitor the oxygen level in the atmosphere.
  • Combustible gas detectors: Flammable gases are sometimes odorless and need to be detected by special equipment like the combustible gas detector.

Note: Regularly calibrating and maintaining hazardous atmosphere detection devices are necessary for obtaining accurate results and ensuring worker safety.


Lighting for Confined Spaces


Most confined spaces do not come with their own illumination, which typically necessitates the use of artificial lighting for proper visibility within these spaces.


Types of Lighting for Confined Space Retrieval


There are a myriad of lights that can be used in confined spaces, and the ones you choose depend on the type of confined space you are working in, the required visibility, the presence of visibility-blocking gases, and your preferences.


  • Explosion-proof flashlights: As the name says, these kinds of flashlights are used in confined spaces with flammable gases. Explosion-proof flashlights are able to work without causing sparks that could potentially ignite flammable gases or dust.
  • Headlamps: Headlamps are lamps attached to the helmet of a confined space worker to aid visibility.
  • Area lighting: Area lights are used to illuminate an entire area at once. They are typically used in conjunction with other lights like headlamps and explosion-proof lights. Some area lights are also explosion-proof lights.


Note: It is important to use intrinsically safe electrical equipment in confined spaces with potential ignition sources.






Additional Equipment for Confined Space Work


The pieces of equipment used for confined space work are quite numerous, and it would be impossible to cover them all in this article. Below are some extra equipment to consider when working in confined spaces:


  • Coveralls and accessories
  • Hardhats and face shields
  • Hearing protection like earplugs and earmuffs
  • Fire extinguishers and flame-retardant clothing
  • Harnesses and anchor points for fall protection and rescue operations




According to the recommendations provided by OSHA, working in any area that qualifies as a confined space comes with many safety hazards. Working with the appropriate equipment for a particular confined space goes a long way in ensuring the safety of your team members and the success of a project or rescue mission.



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