Craig Martin, Construction Attorney Lamson Dugan & Murray, LLP

On May 1, OSHA announced its final rules for construction workers in confined spaces.  The Final Rules, which will take effect August 3, 2015, will require more comprehensive training , with the goal of providing construction workers the same or similar protections as employees in manufacturing and general industry.

The final rule will cover confined spaces such as:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Manholes
  • Tanks
  • Sewers

The final rule will require the following:

  • Confined spaces must be large enough for an employee to enter and have a means of exiting.
  • The air in confined spaces must be tested  before workers enter them to ensure that the air is safe.
  • Construction workers must share safety information with others when they are going to work in enclosed/confined spaces.
  • Hazards associated with confined spaces must be continuously monitored and abated to the extent possible.

The new rule also contains detailed coordination requirements for all parties working on a job site.  Specifically, property owners and managers (“host employers”) have the obligation to provide information about permit-required confined spaces at its location to the general contractors (“controlling contractors”).  General Contractors, in turn, are required to share that information with subcontractors (“entry employers”).

Construction companies will have to begin the training process soon in order to get ahead of this new rule.  The training should focus on permit-required areas and the dangers of attempting rescues in permit-required areas.  OSHA has made available Confined Spaces in Construction Compliance Assistance Materials, on topics such as:

Take Away: Construction companies will have to train their employees on the new Confined Spaces Regulations and the sooner you start the better.