Personal Injury

OSHA announces new rule to protect construction workers in confined spaces

unsafe trench OSHA photo OSHA announces new rule to protect construction workers in confined spacesConstruction workers in confined spaces now have stronger protections thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to OSHA, the new rule will require employers of construction workers in confined spaces to share their safety information with employees, as well as monitor the confined spaces for any safety hazards. Confined spaces includes any area large enough for an employee to enter, spaces with limited entry or exit ways, as well as spaces not designed for excessive occupancy, such as tanks, crawl spaces and manholes.

OSHA has found that employees forced to work in confined spaces may face safety hazards during day-to-day labor, including toxic substances, explosions, asphyxiation and electrocutions. If an emergency were to occur while in a confined space, the situation could become dire. The new rule was created to provide stronger provisions for these workers to count on when placed in a difficult position.

“In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don’t have to happen,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces. In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year.”

Although manufacturing and general industry employees have had similar protections in place confined for decades, the construction industry faced unique hurdles that required tailoring for the protections to work correctly. As a result of OSHA’s efforts, now construction employers will be required to share important safety information and continuously monitor potential safety hazards.

“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.”

For more information on the compliance assistance matieral, visit OSHA’s “Confined Spaces in Construction” page online by clicking here.

The Hill