New OSHA Construction Confined Spaces Standards
Back on May 5, 2015 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new standards for construction work in confined spaces which went into effect on August 3, 2015. The new rules aim to eliminate and isolate confined space hazards to prevent construction workers from getting hurt or killed and bring standards into alignment with how permit–required confined spaces are currently regulated.
According to the OSHA website, there are 5 main differences from the rules which apply to construction and some areas where the existing requirements have been clarified.
The new requirements for construction include:
- more detailed provisions requiring coordinated activities when there are multiple employers at the worksite;
- requiring a competent person to evaluate the worksite and identify confined spaces, including permit spaces;
- requiring continuous atmospheric monitoring whenever possible;
- requiring continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards; and
- 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.
Additionally, some provisions were added to clarify existing requirements in the General Industry Standard which include:
- requiring that employers who direct employees to enter a space without using a complete permit system prevent employees’ 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 arrange for responders to give the employer advance notice if they will be unable to respond for a period of time; and
- requiring employers to provide training in a language and vocabulary that the employee understands.
Finally, several terms were also added to the definitions for the construction rule, such as “entry rescue” to clarify the differences in type of rescue employers can use, or “entry employer” which describes the employer who directs employees to enter a space.
Additional information can be found at National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) - Confined Spaces