Effective August 3, 2015, OSHA will release a brand new standard on confined spaces on construction job sites. The safety organization hopes these regulations will prevent the roughly 780 major injuries and death that occur in enclosed and restricted spaces on the job every year. Some typical hazards in such spaces include minimal access to exit the space if needed, air quality hazards and flooding or collapse of the area. In response to the previous lax rules on enclosed spaces in construction, OSHA created 29 CFR part 126 Subpart AA specifically for those situations. OSHA has also updated its recordkeeping rules this year.
The new regulation is a pretty hefty and comprehensive document, so below we have highlighted a few of the more interesting parts.
Definitions of Important Terms
Host employer: The contracted employer, hired by the owner will serve as the host employee for the duration of the project and will be held responsible for maintaining safety conditions in a confined space.
Controlling Contractor: The entity responsible for the construction aspect of the project. One entity can be both the Host Employer and Controlling Contractor
Entry Employer: Any employer that decides one of its employees should enter the confined space.
Confined Space: from OSHA 1926.1202, a confined space is large enough for a person to enter, has limited entries and exits, and is not designed for continuous activity
This new regulation does not apply to the following situation:
- Excavations (must follow subpart P);
- Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams and Compressed Air (must follow subpart S);
- Diving (must follow subpart Y)
- Each potential “confined space” must be identified and inspected by a competent person. Such testing includes continuous monitoring of airspace and engulfment hazards.
- Each confined space should be permitted and entry supervisor must authorize the entry.
- If an employee would like to enter a permitted confined space, its entry employer must take necessary measures to prevent unauthorized entry, identify and evaluate the hazards of the space, and develop procedures for safe use of the space, which includes testing for potential hazards and early detection of hazards.
- Entry employer must provide several pieces of equipment for an employee to enter a confined space:
- Testing and Monitoring equipment
- Ventilation equipment
- Communication equipment
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Proper lighting that meets minimum lighting requirements in 1926.56
- Barriers and shields
- Equipment for safe egress and ingress of the confined spacer
- Rescue and emergency equipment (1926.1204(c)(4))
- Any other necessary equipment to provide a safe environment
- Each entry employer is required to provide training to each entry employee on the rules and regulations of this new OSHA standard and the employer must keep the records
The above information is no substitute for reading and understanding the entire OSHA standard, so if you’re on a job site with a confined space, be sure to read the 27 page standard by clicking here. There is also a very helpful FAQ page on OSHA’s website that’s worth a look.