From claustrophobia to toxic gases, agricultural confined spaces may contain significant worker hazards. CTEH experts are explaining how operators can implement workplace training to help reduce these safety and health risks:

What is the first step to preventing confined space incidents?
Preparation is key. While protocols will vary depending on work sites, OSHA recommends agricultural operators develop a written confined space entry system. If an operator needs help determining if the space requires a permit before entry, they can reference the OSHA 1910.146 Appendix A Permit-Required Confined Space Decision Flow Chart. First, operators should conduct a thorough review of the workplace to identify, mark and evaluate confined spaces and their associated risks. Prior to and during entry, operators should ensure all spaces are tested for proper ventilation and “oxygen content, flammability, toxicity and explosion hazards.” In addition, operators should ensure workers are using the proper equipment (e.g., fall protection) and are able to maintain contact at all times with a trained attendant or “hole watch”.

Should employees undergo confined space training?
Yes, employees should always be trained on proper safety procedures. In agricultural settings, operators should first identify those workers authorized to enter confined spaces. These individuals should then be taught to identify and address any potential hazards, including using the required personal protective equipment, and how to safely enter and exit confined spaces.

What about emergency action plans?
To prevent confined space incidents, OSHA recommends all agricultural operators develop a comprehensive emergency action plan. These plans should include “quick removal of the entrant,” as well as “procedures for facility operators and local responders.” These plans should be regularly reviewed, updated and communicated to all employees.

Need more information about confined space training? Contact CTEH at 501-801-8500 or