An injury from a fall into a confined space can be as serious as a fall from an above ground platform. Many confined spaces have access holes that are 20 feet or more. Such spaces as holding tanks, manholes, furnaces, railroad tank cars, silos, hoppers, and food processing tanks hold the potential for serious falls. A confined space has enough room for a worker to enter and work but has very limited means for entry or exit.
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OSHA defines a confined space as any area that has:

  • Adequate size and configuration for employee entry
  • Limited means for access or egress
  • Design that does not allow for continuous employee entry

Many areas that are confined spaces have the potential for hazards that are toxic, flammable, asphyxiating, or engulfing. When a fall occurs in this environment you need specific equipment for rescue and retrieval. Associated Scaffolding offers all the fall protection and retrieval equipment necessary to handle confined space falls.

Elements for Fall Protection and Retrieval in Confined Spaces

There are three major elements in a fall protection and retrieval system for a confined space:

The full body harness holds the body in some sort of equilibrium by distributing the impact of the fall throughout the body and holds the body in an upright position. Retractable lifelines allow the worker freedom of movement while keeping the line out of the way. If a fall occurs, a centrifugal locking mechanism arrests the fall within inches. Two-way and three-way retractable lifelines can be used to raise an entrant to safety.

Anchorage points are the third major element in a confined space safety system. These are secured points for the attachment of lifelines and hoists. Tripods and davits are used as anchorage points in the majority of confined spaces situations. Most tripods and davits are designed to support a 5,000-pound static load, which is the OSHA requirement for anchorage points used in fall arrest applications.


Because confined spaces hold their own unique set of challenges, you need specific equipment to deal with protection and retrieval. When preparing for work in a confined space, consider the size of the space, the combined weight of the worker with tools, and other specifics of the area.

To properly outfit a fall protection and retrieval system, as we said earlier, you need full body harnesses, tripods or davits, retractable lifelines. Depending on the specific characteristics of the space, you may need other items such as wall and floor base mounts, retrieval yokes, and space pulleys.

Order Your Confined Space Equipment Today

We take pride in offering all the equipment you might need in your confined-space fall protection and retrieval system. Your safety is our primary concern. Let us help you evaluate your work area and determine the exact equipment needed for a comprehensive system. We are eager to assist you in making sure your workers have the protection they deserve. Order online, call us at 1-800-768-2655, or come see us in our Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Charlotte, NC, Columbia, SC, Knoxville, TN and Richmond, VA locations.