On August 3, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) new rule protecting construction workers operating in confined spaces went into effect. It expands protection procedures for workers, requiring their employers to more stringently monitor and share information about hazards related to confined spaces.
OSHA's rule extends to such areas as manholes, crawl spaces, tanks and other areas not intended for continuous occupancy. Working in these narrow areas puts workers at greater risk of life-threatening hazards such as toxic exposure, explosion, electrocution and asphyxiation, as they are difficult to exit in the event of an emergency.
The regulation , first proposed in May of this year, comes after two workers were asphyxiated while repairing leaks in a manhole last year. The deaths brought to light the need to update the rules protecting construction workers, as they were out of date compared with those protecting manufacturing and general industry workers. With recent technological advances allowing employers to better track hazards at constantly changing construction sites, it is finally possible to provide construction workers with the same protection as their counterparts in manufacturing.
The rule focuses on expanding protection through training, communication and continuous worksite evaluation, as well as coordination between employers and emergency services prior to workers entering confined spaces, and is expected to have an immediate impact on safety programs for construction.
"This new rule will significantly improve the safety of construction workers who enter confined spaces," says Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. "In fact, we estimate that it will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year."
Safety Advantage, LLC, can help make sure your construction safety program is up to date with current OSHA regulations.