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OSHA earlier this month issued a final rule on confined spaces in construction. All provisions of the rule will go into effect August 3, 2015.
OSHA has been working on the confined spaces standard for over 20 years. In 2007 it issued a proposed rule that many in the construction industry found confusing, so the following year OSHA requested additional comments and continued working on the rule. The standard unveiled on May 1 is essentially the same as the general industry standard – but with a few minor tweaks.
According to OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions page on the new standard, there are five new requirements and several areas where OSHA has clarified existing requirements. The five new requirements include:
In addition, OSHA has added provisions to the new rule that clarifies existing requirements in the General Industry standard. These include:
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.
“This rule will save lives of construction workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels. “Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.”