OSHA Issues Final Rue to Increase Protections for Construction Workers in Confined Spaces

 
Monday, May 11, 2015
 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces. 

Manholes, crawl spaces, tanks and other confined spaces are not intended for continuous occupancy. They are also difficult to exit in an emergency. People working in confined spaces face life-threatening hazards including toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation. 

Last year, two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole, the second when he went down to save the first — which is not uncommon in cases of asphyxiation in confined spaces.

The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have had for more than two decades, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information and to continuously monitor hazards — a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created. 

Compliance assistance material and additional information is available on OSHA's Confined Spaces in Construction Web page.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

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