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OSHA Issues Confined Spaces in Construction Standard Guide

By Jordy Byrd

worker in confined space

OSHA has published a new training resource to help small businesses comply with the 2015 Confined Spaces in Construction Standard. The manual, “Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces: Small Entity Compliance Guide” addresses the most common compliance issues that employers face.

The publication outlines:

  • Confined spaces and permit spaces
  • Work covered by the standard
  • Employer responsibilities and workers' rights
  • Identification and reclassification of permit spaces
  • Worker training
  • Rescue and emergency services

The guide also includes examples of a permit-required confined space program and entry permit. You can download the complimentary publication or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) to order it and other safety publications.

Defining a Confined Space

A confined space is a space whose configuration and/or contents may present special dangers not found in normal work areas. Confined spaces may be poorly ventilated and, as a result, contain insufficient oxygen or hazardous levels of toxic gases.

Working in a tight space can prevent a worker from keeping a safe distance from mechanical and electrical hazards. Fumes from a flammable liquid in a poorly ventilated area can reach explosive levels. Such hazards endanger both the workers in the confined space and others who become exposed to the hazards when they attempt to rescue injured workers.

In a number of cases, rescue workers have themselves died or been injured because they did not have the training and equipment necessary to conduct the rescue safely. Because confined spaces are potentially dangerous, employers must evaluate all confined spaces in which their employees work to determine whether hazards exist or whether the work to be done in the space can create hazards.

Confined Space Permits

A confined space is considered a permit-required confined space if it contains an actual or potential hazard that can cause:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Acute illness
  • Incapacitation
  • Entrapment
  • Interference with a worker’s ability to leave the space in an emergency

Employers must follow certain procedures whenever workers enter a permit space, including:

  1. Specifying the precautions taken to protect workers in the space
  2. Giving affected workers the knowledge to protect themselves and others
  3. Planning how to rescue injured or trapped workers promptly and safely

Graphic Products offers a Confined Spaces Best Practice Guide that provides industry resources and safety training tools to comply with OSHA's general industry regulations.