What’s in, what’s out, what’s new, and what’s needed

In 1993 OSHA enacted 29 CFR 1910.146 “Permit-Required Confined Spaces.” In 2015, a major new confined space regulation, 1926 Subpart AA, expanded regulatory requirements to cover permit required confined spaces during construction. As part of the new rule, OSHA has clarified and expanded the list of applicable permit required confined space, training requirements, communication requirements, assignment of responsibilities and use of gas detectors and atmospheric monitors. Testing and calibration requirements have been clarified as well.

The manufacturers of equipment used in confined spaces have not been idle. The new rules have driven many changes, especially in the performance and capabilities of confined space gas detectors, including:

Wireless communication:

  • Good communication among contractors and CSE team members is mandatory.
  • Decisions need to be based on real time information
  • Confined space gas detectors offer real-time wireless communication via Blue Tooth, license free RF wireless or cellular connection.
  • Each method has benefits and limitations

New types of sensors:

  • Solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) O2 sensors can last 5 years or longer without needing replacement
  • Infrared LEL sensors need less power, but have different limitations in the way they measure gas
  • Dependable electrochemical sensors that can be used to measure gases like H2S, SO2 and NO2 with increasingly low exposure limits
  • PID sensors for toxic VOC and fuel vapor detection

Compact size, easier to use designs:

  • Full-size versus miniaturized electrochemical sensors
  • Five gas and six gas instruments becoming the norm
  • With or without an internal pump
  • Better batteries, longer operation

Automatic record keeping solutions:

  • Conformity without proof is not enough
  • Keeping good records is mandatory!

Docking stations and automatic test stations:

  • Performing a daily bump test is mandatory in many jurisdictions, what does OSHA say?
  • Automatic docking stations make testing and calibration simple