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LEGISLATIVE INTERPRETATIONS

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT

Confined space – Continuous Human Occupancy

Topic: Confined space – Continuous Human Occupancy Issued By: Director, Compliance and Regulatory Review
Statute: General Regulation 91-191 Date Issued: November 13, 2019
Section: 262 Date Revised:

Definition

262 In this Part “confined space” means an enclosed or partially enclosed space not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy with restricted access or egress and which is or may become hazardous to a person entering it because of its design, construction, location, atmosphere or the materials or substances in it or other conditions.

Question

How can I determine if a space is “not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy”?

Answer

For a space to be considered a confined space, it must meet the following four components within the definition:

  1. Enclosed or partially enclosed space.
  2. Not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy.
  3. With restricted access or egress.
  4. Which is or may become hazardous to a person entering it because of its

    • Design
    • Construction
    • Location
    • Atmosphere or the materials or substances in it or other conditions.

While all components of the definition have to be addressed, to answer this question the focus is on determining whether or not a work space is designed or intended for continuous human occupancy.

New Brunswick regulations do not define continuous human occupancy. To determine if a space is designed or intended for continuous human occupancy, we must consider the intent and purpose of the space – what was/is the space intended for and which standards were followed in its design and construction?

A space designed or intended for continuous human occupancy has been designed and constructed in accordance with recognized codes and standards that contain provisions, such as structural adequacy, entry and exit, ventilation and lighting, to ensure that a human could continually occupy that space. Examples are the National Building Code, the National Fire Code, or ASHRAE 62 “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.” Workspaces such as offices, arenas, maintenance rooms, and control rooms are obvious places designed for extended periods (continuously) of human occupancy, and therefore would not be considered confined spaces.

Structures such as process vessels, sewers, tanks, silos, hoppers, tank cars, pipes, etc., are designed and constructed to play a role in part of a process. Their primary purpose is to contain, transport, move or manipulate materials or equipment and they are not primarily designed for people to occupy them. They may have structures such as ladders or platforms where workers can perform work within the space on occasion (but not continuously). These spaces were not designed for continuous human occupancy.

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