Confined spaces refers to such spaces as manholes, crawl spaces, and tanks, and other spaces that are not designed for continuous occupancy and are often difficult to exit in the event of an emergency. These spaces can present life-threatening hazards including exposure to toxic substances, electrocution, explosions and asphyxiation. These hazards can be safeguarded against if addressed prior to entering the confined space to perform work. OSHA has added a new subpart to its regulations to provide protection for construction workers working in confined spaces, replacing its one training requirement for confined space work with a comprehensive standard that includes a permit program that was designed to protect workers from exposure to many hazards associated with work in confined spaces. OSHA’s Final Rule, 80 Fed. Reg. 25366 (May 4, 2015) (codified at 29 C.F.R. Part 1926), incorporates several provisions to address construction-specific hazards, accounts for advancements in technology, and improves enforceability of the requirements. The Final Rule is effective on August 3.
Additional Sources: OSHA, Confined Spaces; OSHA FactSheet re Confined Spaces in Construction: Crawl Spaces and Attics; U.S. Department of Labor, Frequently Asked Questions re OSHA’s New Standard for Construction Work in Confined Spaces