CFAES Give Today
CFAES Safety

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Confined Space Program & Grain Handling Safety

The Confined Space Program contains requirements for practices and procedures to protect employees from the hazards of entry into a confined space. The written program adheres to the requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Section 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Standard Number 1910.146. An important component of the Confined Space Program is the requirement for entry permits, which can be obtained through OSU Environmental Health &Safety.

This program contains the procedures and practices for safe entry into locations at the Ohio State Univerisity classified as "Non-Permit" and "Permit-Required" confined spaces. The program applies to all OSU employees whose job duties require them to enter or monitor confined spaces. Any affected individual must have confined space training and will be provided monitoring equipment before confined space entry.

According to OSHA, confined spaces are defined as follows:

Confined Space:
– Space large enough and so configured that a person can bodily enter and perform assigned task.
– A space that has limited or restricted means of entry or exit.
– It is not intended for continuous human occupancy.

Permit Required Confined Space (A confined space plus one or more of the following):
– Contains or has potential to contain a hazardous material (atmosphere).
– Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing or entrapment.
– Has internal configuration with inwardly converging walls or floor which slopes downward to  a smaller cross section.
– Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard.

Agricultural settings can have offer their own uique confined spaces. An agricultural confined space can be identified as any space found in an agricultural workplace that:
– was not designated or intended as a regular workstation
– has limited or restricted means of entry or exit
– associated with potential physical and/or toxic hazards to workers who intentionally or unintentionally enter the space.

Agricultural confined spaces can include grain and feed storage structures, forage storage structures, manure storage structures, agricultural transport vehicles, agricultural equipment, food processing and storage equipment, liquid storage tanks, on-farm excavations, and drainage culverts.  If any of these confined spaces have one or more of the "permit required" confined space criteria, a Confined Space Entry Permit is required.

If you need a Confined Space Entry Permit, contact Steve Davidson (OSU EHS) at 292-1284 (extension 49459). Additionally, Confined Space Entry Permits can be requested by using the EHS Service Request Form. Select Occupational Health and Safety from the Service Area drop-down menu and Confined Space Entry Permit from the Service drop-down menu.

Confined Space Written Program
OSU Confined Space Entry Permit & Hazard Analysis
OSU Confined Space Reclassification Form
OSHA Confined Space Decision Tree
OSHA Confined Space Entry on the Farm
Ohio BWC Confined Space Entry
CFAES Agricultural Confined Space Training (pdf)
Staying Safe: Understanding Manure Storage Gases

Grain Handling Safety

Grain handling and grain handling facilites can expose workers to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards can be classified into two catagories: health hazards and physical hazards. Grain handling hazards can found throughout the process and be present in three basic areas: in the field at harvest, around the grain handling facility, and inside the grain bin. Grain handling facilities are facilities that may receive, handle, store, process and ship bulk raw agricultural commodities.

Hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Many grain handling facilites will have multiple confined space areas. These areas need to be identified and marked. Employees should be trained on machine hazards, health hazards, common causes of grain entrapment, confined space program, and site specific procedures.

OSHA Grain Handling Safety Overview
OSHA Fact Sheet: Worker Entry into Grain Storage Bins
Grain Storage Structure Entry Procedures (Grain Handling Safety Coalition)
Grain Bin Entry Permit (written by Ohio Risk Coordinator Group)
Guidance for Sweep Auger Operations in Grain Bins
OSU Ag Safety - Grain Safety Poster (pdf)
National Safety Council - Grain Storage Fact Sheet
Great Plains Center - Grain Engulfment and Entrapment
Grain Handling Safety Coalition


If you have any questions regarding CFAES confined spaces, please contact Kent McGuire at or 292-0588. You may also contact the OSU Environmental Health and Safety Office online at or by phone at (614) 292-1284.


Reviewed / Updated: 11/6/20 K. McGuire