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The answer to this question is not as obvious as you may think. Let's review some terminology. By OSHA definition, a confined space means the space is:
A trench excavation would certainly seem to meet the confined space criteria. By OSHA definition, a trench excavation means;
How Does a Permit-Required Confined Space relate to a trench excavation? A permit-required confined space has one or more of the following characteristics:
(1) Contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere.
(2) Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant.
(3) Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section.
(4) Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.
By now you realize that a trench excavation may indeed present many of the hazards of a permit-required confined space. In general practice, all trench excavations over 4 feet in depth should be considered as confined spaces until all of the potential, associated hazards have been ruled out by a competent person.
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