OSHA answers general questions on attics, crawl spaces, and basements

Does the mere presence of a physical hazard in an attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) make the space a permit-required confined space under the standard?

No. However, if the attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) is a confined space, the presence of a physical hazard in the space would trigger the permit-required confined space requirements if the physical hazard is not isolated (see 1926.1203(g)) or if there is potential employee exposure to the physical hazard. Note that not all unsafe conditions constitute “physical hazards,” which the standard defines as only those conditions that could impede an entrant’s ability to exit the space without assistance.

Does the presence of electrical equipment in an attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) automatically make the attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) a permit-required confined space?

No. Only if an entrant has exposure to a serious hazard associated with the electrical equipment, such as an exposed live conductor, and the exposure could impede the entrant’s ability to exit the space without assistance, would the presence of electrical equipment make the attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) a permit-required confined space.

Is a dimly lit attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) necessarily a permit-required confined space?

No. A confined space with limited lighting alone would not be considered a permit-required confined space, provided that the limited lighting could not impede an entrant’s ability to exit the space without assistance.

Does the mere presence of animals in an attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) that is a confined space automatically make the attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) a permit-required confined space?

No. The presence of animals would only make a confined space a permit-required confined space if the animals posed a physical hazard, as defined by the standard.

Does the presence of water in an attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) that is a confined space always make the attic, crawl space, or basement (before steps are installed) a permit-required confined space?

No.

Are attics, crawl spaces, or basements (before steps are installed) containing utility service lines (e.g., water, natural gas, fuel oil, sewage, steam and electric power) that pass through them always considered to be permit-required confined spaces?

No. If utility services pass through attics, crawl spaces, or basements (before steps are installed) that are confined spaces, the inherent hazards of the material flowing through the service lines do not have to be considered in the permit space determination unless it is reasonably foreseeable that a rupture or leak could occur such that the contents of the service lines could cause a serious safety or health hazard that could impede an entrant’s ability to exit the space without assistance.

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