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A confined space is one that is large enough such that it an employee can bodily enter and perform some work in it but such space is not designed for continues employee occupancy. In addition, such space has limited means of access as well as egress which implies that one needs to use his/her body to enter the space. However, there are various spaces selectively that require a permit. There are several factors that necessitate the need for a permit with regards to confines spaces such as spaces that contain or have the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere, spaces that contain material that are potentially engulfing to the entrants of the space and spaces that have an internal configuration that might cause an entrant to be trapped which all narrow down to confined spaces that have any recognized serious safety and health hazards. In this case, argon is a substance that can be absorbed into the body through absorption and causes health risks such as suffocation, dizziness and serious respiratory complications due tom prolonged exposure. This implies that a worker needing to enter a confined space to tighten the packing on a leaking argon valve would involve the use of a space entry permit.
There are several methods of separating the argon line and valve such that there is no exposure of argon to the outside atmosphere. One method of doing this is through the solvent dispensing system where the method incorporates a high vacuum pump and the argon supply. The basics of the operation dictate that the oven dried solvent recovery flask be subjected to several vacuum pumps and the argon is collected in the solvent flask. This prevents the argon line from coming into contact with the valve. Another way of doing this is through the SDS which aims at keeping the recovery flask under an inert gas atmosphere. In this, argon is introduced into the SDS system after which the valve and the argon line are split into separate argon lines with each column running individually.