OSHA Seeks Comments on Confined Space Rule

OSHA, in the Nov. 28 Federal Register, published a proposed rule that would provide construction workers with more protections when working in confined spaces.

“The existing construction standard for confined spaces would be updated and comprehensively revised to better protect construction employees from atmospheric and physical hazards,” said OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. of the proposed rule, which has been in the works for 14 years. “This rule will reduce the number of construction injuries and fatalities and greatly improve safety and health in the workplace.”

The proposed rule lists four classifications of confined space for construction workers and addresses construction-specific issues and uses a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to confined space safety by delineating how to assess the hazards, classify the space and implement effective procedures to protect employees. The proposed rule would require controlling contractors to coordinate confined space operations among a site's multiple employers.

According to OSHA, a new rule was needed because the general industry confined space rule issued in 1993 did not address unique characteristics inherent to the construction industry, such as high employee turnover rates and continuously evolving worksites, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses.

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