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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
SEP 08, 2015
Brought to you by Amerisure
Don’t Let OSHA’s New Rule for Working in Confined Spaces Catch You Unaware
Earlier last month, OSHA (The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) added a new
subpart to its rule governing employees working in confined spaces in construction
. This is the first time OSHA has addressed this issue in 22 years.
While the final rule (Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926) is similar in content and organization to the general industry confined spaces standard, it also:
Incorporates several provisions to address construction-specific hazards
Accounts for advancements in technology
Improves enforceability of the requirements
introducing the new rule
, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Health and Safety, said “This rule will save lives of construction workers…(it) emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication.”
Here’s What You Need to Know.
Under the former rule, the only requirement for construction workers in confined spaces was training. The final rule – which went into effect August 3, 2015 – now requires employers to determine:
What kinds of spaces their workers are in
What hazards could be there
How those hazards should be made safe
What training workers should receive
And how to rescue those workers if anything goes wrong
Five New Requirements.
There are several areas where OSHA has clarified existing requirements plus five new requirements for employers who have people working in confined spaces. The five new requirements include:
More detailed provisions requiring coordinated activities when there are multiple employers at the worksite. This will ensure hazards are not introduced into a confined space by workers performing tasks outside the space. An example would be a generator running near the entrance of a confined space causing a buildup of carbon monoxide within the space.
Requiring a competent person to evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces, including permit spaces.
Requiring continuous atmospheric monitoring whenever possible.
Requiring continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards. For example, when workers are performing work in a storm sewer, a storm upstream from the workers could cause flash flooding. An electronic sensor or observer posted upstream from the work site could alert workers in the space at the first sign of the hazard, giving the workers time to evacuate the space safely.
Allowing for the suspension of a permit, instead of cancellation, in the event of changes from the entry conditions list on the permit or an unexpected event requiring evacuation of the space. The space must be returned to the entry conditions listed on the permit before re-entry.
OSHA has also added provisions to the new rule that clarify existing requirements in the General Industry standard. These include:
Requiring that employers who direct workers to enter a space without using a complete permit system prevent workers’ exposure to physical hazards through elimination of the hazard or isolation methods such as lockout/tagout.
Requiring that employers who are relying on local emergency services for emergency services arrange for responders to give the employer advance notice if they will be unable to respond for a period of time (because they are responding to another emergency, attending department-wide training, etc.)
Requiring employers to provide training in a language and vocabulary that the worker understands.
Finally, several terms have been added to the definitions for the construction rule, such as “entry employer” to describe the employer who directs workers to enter a space, and “entry rescue”, added to clarify the differences in the types of rescue employers can use.
For More Information or Compliance Assistance
If you have
or need help complying with the new rule, contact the Directorate of Construction, Room N3468, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 693-2020 or fax (202) 693-1689.