OSHA’S Construction Confined Space Standard
Major new OSHA standards that cover millions of workers come few and far between. But in May, 2015, the agency published its long-awaited final rule on safety requirements for confined spaces in the construction industry (Subpart AA, 1926.1200). In July, OSHA announced a 60-day temporary enforcement policy for the new rules. The agency is postponing full enforcement of the new standard to Oct. 2, 2015, in response to requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard.
There’s a decades-long backstory to this new standard. In 1993, OSHA issued a rule to protect employees who enter confined spaces while engaged in general industry work (29 CFR 1910.146). This standard did not extend to cover employees entering confined spaces while engaged in construction work due to unique characteristics of construction worksites. Negotiations with the United Steel Workers of America led to a settlement agreement regarding the general industry standard, and OSHA agreed to issue a proposed rule to protect construction workers in confined spaces. The proposed rule was published in November 2007. Almost eight years later we have the final rule.
The confined spaces in construction rule differs from the general industry version in important ways, which are explained throughout this eBook. Construction confined spaces include pits (but not excavations and trenches already regulated), piping, sewers, crawl spaces and attics, manholes, tanks, tunnels, and lift stations. In general, a confined space: 1) has a limited means of entry and/or exit; 2) is large enough for a worker to enter it; and 3) is not intended for regular/ continuous occupancy.
Contractors that set up permit-required confined space programs should only need to make a few changes to be in compliance. However, for companies that have not created a permit-required confined space entry training program, now is the time to get started.
I’m sure you’ll find this eBook to be a valuable asset in reviewing OSHA’s new standard and understanding the differences between how OSHA regulates confined spaces in general industry versus construction.
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