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Coming Soon: OSHA’s Confined Spaces Standard

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration will introduce a new subpart to the Confined Spaces Standard on August 3, 2015 specifically designed to protect employees working in the construction industry. While similar to the General Industry Standard, the new rule has several provisions to address construction-related hazards, to account for new technology in the workforce, and to improve enforceability of the standard.

To help you better understand OSHA’s new Confined Spaces Standard, our Brandon construction attorneys have provided important information below.

What is a Confined Space?

To be recognized as a confined space, OSHA uses the following three characteristics:
1. The space is large enough for an employee to enter.
2. The space has limited means for entry or exit.
3. The space is not meant for continued occupancy.

OSHA views confined spaces, such as manholes, tanks, air conditioning ducts, bins, crawl spaces, and boilers to name a few, an extremely high risk to employees because of the difficulty to escape during an emergency.

Confined Spaces that present exposure to additional safety hazards such as toxic substances, electrocution, explosions, and asphyxiation are labeled “permit spaces” and require a permit, as well as a written confined space training program. Additionally, before any employee enters the space, a permit must be written outlining safety protocols, as well as authorized individuals. If any worker enters the permit space without being assigned or trained to work in the area, an employer will be in violation of the standard and face subsequent penalties. If you’re not sure if a space on your jobsite qualifies as a “permit space” speak with a construction attorney in Brandon who specializes in OSHA regulations or your local OSHA Area Director.

Five New Requirements of the Confined Space Standard

1. When multiple employers are present on a jobsite during a construction project, there must be provisions coordinating simultaneous work being completed. The purpose of this is to protect workers in confined areas from being exposed to harmful hazards occurring from work being completed in other areas of the jobsite. The example provided by OSHA was a generator running near a confined space exposing a worker to harmful carbon monoxide.
2. Each worksite must be evaluated by a “competent” company representative to identify confined spaces and permit spaces.
3. Each worksite requires constant atmospheric monitoring.
4. Each worksite requires constant engulfment hazard monitoring. This requirement relates mainly to workers in confined spaces located in areas such as storm sewers. If a flash flood occurred, for example, they would need to be alerted immediately to evacuate safely.
5. Permits may be suspended, rather than canceled. After conditions of the space change or an evacuation occurs, reentry may occur once the entry returns to the original conditions found in the permit.

To learn more information about the Confined Space Standard, visit www.osha.gov/confinedspace/index.html.

If you’d like to speak with a construction attorney from Trent Cotney, P.A. to protect your business from OSHA violations, please call us today or submit our consultation request form.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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