The Occupational Safety & Health Administration issued new regulations for construction work in confined spaces this summer. The new regulations went into effect on August 3, 2015.
The new confined space regulations were developed in efforts to minimize and prevent the number of injuries and fatalities construction workers experience when working in confined spaces. Confined spaces have minimal clearance and a single or very few points of entry or escape. Common confined spaces a construction employee might work in include:
- Crawl spaces
- Industrial system rooms or compartments
- Engine rooms
Generally escaping a hazard in a small space is a challenge. A worker might not be able to safely exit in time should an accident occur. Part of the changes OSHA has issued in the new regulations include permit suspensions for confined spaces that experience a change in entry conditions. When a space's list of entry conditions changes, under the new terms the work permit will be suspended until the entry conditions are restored.
Previously, atmosphere monitoring was not enforced when it was available. Now, when monitoring is possible it is required. Additionally, monitoring and notifying workers of engulfment hazards is new mandatory requirement.
Construction sites often involve multiple vendors and contracted companies. Sometimes electricians are on-site working alongside plumbers under separate contracts. Masons, welders, and a number of other trades could be working in the same space and coordinating efforts while under different contracts. OSHA added more provisions for employers who coordinate collaborate efforts on construction worksites.
Another key change: A worker must now evaluate worksites and identify all confined spaces. This will help establish which spaces will require a permit. OSHA defines the inspector as a 'competent person,' so it does not appear there will be a single individual identifying confined spaces as their only role. Confined space identification might become the job duty of any on-site worker.
If you were injured at a construction site and you believe your employer and the crew on-site were not following the new guidelines for confined spaces appropriately, contact one of our workers' comp attorneys. Our attorneys work out of Raleigh, Cary, Fayetteville, Dunn and Clinton - but we meet with clients anywhere that is convenient for them. If you are recovering from your work injuries in a hospital or in the comfort of your own home it might be easier for us to come to you. All of our case evaluations are provided at no cost. Request a work injury case evaluation.