In dangerous work environments, you can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel. This month OSHA issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces.
The rule is targeted toward crawl spaces, tanks, manholes – any work environment not intended for continuous occupancy – where life-threatening hazards like toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation are present.
“In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities don’t have to happen,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. 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.”
The rule will provide construction workers with protections similar to manufacturing and general industry standards, which have been in place for more than two decades. The rule ensures communication between multiple employers and continuous hazard monitoring.
“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.”