After much discussion and years of planning, OSHA just announced a new Confined Spaces in Construction rule (29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA). The rule goes into effect August 3, 2015 (later this year). So there’s time to learn about it and to prepare, but on the other hand, time’s moving and you should too.
We’ve put together some information for you to help you get ready. Hope you find it helpful.
Convergence Training is a training supplier with a large library of health and safety e-learning courses, learning management systems (LMSs) for companies of different sizes and industries, and custom training solutions. Contact us for more information or to set up a demo.
So let’s get right down to some of the big questions, shall we?
As noted above, August 3, 2015.
General industry employers comply with the general industry rule (1910.146). Construction employers have to comply with the new, construction rule (1926 Subpart AA). To make that even easier, OSHA provides the following guideline:
“If you are doing construction work – such as building a new structure or upgrading an old one – then you must follow the construction confined space rule.”
But, the new regulation itself also includes some exceptions:
“Exceptions. This standard does not apply to: (1) Construction work regulated by §1926 subpart P—Excavations. (2) Construction work regulated by §1926 subpart S—Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams and Compressed Air. (3) Construction work regulated by §1926 subpart Y—Diving.” [source: 1926.1201(b)]
The employer “will meet OSHA requirements if that employer meets the requirements of 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA – Confined Spaces in Construction.” (source: OSHA FAQ)
A confined space is a space that is:
“A permit space is a confined space that may have a hazardous atmosphere, engulfment hazard, or other serious hazard, such as exposed wiring, that can interfere with a worker’s ability to leave the space without assistance.” (source: OSHA FAQ)
“Only workers who have been assigned and trained to work in a permit space may do so. Additionally, before workers can enter a permit space, the employer has to write a permit that specifies what safety measures must to be taken and who is allowed to go in.” (source: OSHA FAQ)
The new rule requires employers to determine:
There are five important differences from the general industry rule. They are:
Also, OSHA added some provisions that clarify some things in the rule for General Industry. They are:
Plus, they added some terms to the definitions section. Check the rule to review all the definitions.
The rule makes the controlling contractor, rather than the host employer, the primary point of contact for information about permit spaces at the work site.
The host employer must provide information it has about permit spaces at the work site to the controlling contractor, who then passes it on to the employers whose employees will enter the spaces (entry employers).
Likewise, entry employers must give the controlling contractor information about their entry program and hazards they encounter in the space, and the controlling contractor passes that information on to other entry employers and back to the host.
As mentioned above, the controlling contractor is also responsible for making sure employers outside a space know not to create hazards in the space, and that entry employers working in a space at the same time do not create hazards for one another’s workers. (source: OSHA FAQ)
Here are some relevant definitions from the new standard that may help you make sense of the section above (source: 1926 Subpart AA Definitions):
Controlling Contractor: The employer that has overall responsibility for construction at the worksite
Entry Employer: Any employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space
Host Employer: The employer that owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place
Yes, if your workers will be entering permit-required confined spaces. (source: OSHA FAQ)
Take effective steps to prevent your employees from entering the space. (source: OSHA FAQ)
Yes. Here’s the contact information: Directorate of Construction, Room N3468, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202)-693-2020 or fax (202)-693-1689. (source: OSHA FAQ)
They’ve got a few resources for you. We’ve listed them below: