Respiratory protection in confined space

  • From potentially toxic atmospheres, to physically hazardous conditions such as extreme temperatures, unstable materials, or the potential for falls, confined spaces often present unseen challenges. Confined spaces are areas that meet all of the following criteria:
     

    • Large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs
    • Limited or restricted means for entry or exit
    • Not designed for continuous occupancy

     

     

Industrial worker wearing breathing aperatus descending into a storage tank.
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Confined spaced. Unique challenges.

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No two confined spaces are exactly alike. Type, size and hazards vary greatly, along with different standards, regulations and company policies that can apply to each working environment.

  • Man in a confined space wearing 3M Respiratory protection

    Common types of confined spaces

    Safely handling entries and exits starts with identifying your work spaces:

    • Storage tanks
    • Culverts
    • Tunnels
    • Elevator shafts
    • Ductwork
    • Trench box
    • Utility vaults

    Where they are found

    Working safely in confined spaces is universal, but different industries present their own challenges:

    • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
    • Chemical manufacturing
    • Food and beverage manufacturing
    • Oil and gas
    • Waste water treatment

Developing a confined space plan

Be ready before getting to work, so your team can safely handle all entries and exits.

Respiratory products for confined spaces

  • Person wearing 3M Supplied Air System, looking down into a confined space
    3M™ Scott Supplied Air Systems (SAR)

    Supplied air respirators can be either constant flow or pressure demand. 3M Scott Supplied Air systems are pressure demand and include 3M™ Scott™ Ska-Pak Respirators with an escape cylinder and the 3M™ Scott™ E-Z Airline Respirator without an escape cylinder. Respirators that include a cylinder can be used in environments that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). SAR users can work up to 300 feet away from the air source and for extended periods of time.

    Components:
     

    • Harness assembly
    • Facepiece
    • Cylinder (3M Scott Ska-Pak Respirators)

     

  • Closeup of person wearing 3M Industrial SCBA
    Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)

    These systems can be used to work in, or escape from, hazards including those that are immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH). An SCBA offers the greatest user mobility and can be used for work duration up to 75 minutes.

    Components:
     

    • Backframe assembly
    • Facepiece
    • Cylinder
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Other PPE considerations for confined space