OSHA Postpones Full Enforcement of New Confined Spaces in Construction Standard for 60 Days


UPDATE: OSHA has extended its temporary enforcement policy through March 8, 2016, only for employers engaged in residential construction work.  OSHA had extended the temporary enforcement policy through January 8, 2016.

In response to industry participants’ request for an extension of the effective date of the Confined Spaces in Construction standard published on May 4, 2015 and in effect on August 3, 2015, OSHA has confirmed that, although it will not delay the effective date it will postpone full enforcement of the new standard for 60 days from the effective date of August 3, 2015 to October 2, 2015 if the employer is “making good faith efforts to comply” with the new standard.

During this 60-day period, OSHA has agreed not to issue a citation to an employer making good faith efforts to comply with the new standard, as long as the employer is in compliance with either the training requirements of the new standard, found at 29 CF.R. § 1926.1207, or the training requirements found at former 29 C.F.R. 1926.21(b)(6)(i).

Section 1926.1207 requires:

(a)  The employer must provide training to each employee whose work is regulated by this standard, at no cost to the employee, and ensure that the employee possesses the understanding, knowledge, and skills necessary for the safe performance of the duties assigned under this standard. This training must result in an understanding of the hazards in the permit space and the methods used to isolate, control or in other ways protect employees from these hazards, and for those employees not authorized to perform entry rescues, in the dangers of attempting such rescues.

(b)  Training required by this section must be provided to each affected employee: (1) In both a language and vocabulary that the employee can understand; (2) Before the employee is first assigned duties under this standard; (3) Before there is a change in assigned duties; (4) Whenever there is a change in permit space entry operations that presents a hazard about which an employee has not previously been trained; and (5) Whenever there is any evidence of a deviation from the permit space entry procedures required by paragraph §1926.1204(c) of this standard or there are inadequacies in the employee’s knowledge or use of these procedures.

(c)  The training must establish employee proficiency in the duties required by this standard and must introduce new or revised procedures, as necessary, for compliance with this standard.

(d)  The employer must maintain training records to show that the training required by paragraphs § 1926.1207(a) through (c) of this standard has been accomplished. The training records must contain each employee’s name, the name of the trainers, and the dates of training. The documentation must be available for inspection by employees and their authorized representatives, for the period of time the employee is employed by that employer.

In making a determination as to whether an employer is making good faith efforts to comply with the new standard, OSHA will consider:

  • If the employer has not trained its employees as required under the new standard, whether the employer has scheduled such training,
  • If the employer does not have the equipment required for compliance with the new standard, including personal protective equipment, whether the employer has ordered or otherwise arranged to obtain such equipment required for compliance and is taking alternative measures to protect employees from confined space hazards, and
  • Whether the employer has engaged in any additional efforts to educate workers about confined space hazards and protect workers from those hazards.

Additional Source:  U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Temporary Enforcement Policy for Construction Work in Confined Spaces