OSHA rule aims to protect construction workers in confined spaces

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to better protect construction workers in confined spaces.

The rule will force employers to share safety information with employees and monitor confined spaces for safety hazards, which include spaces large enough for an employee to enter, spaces that have limited means of entry or exit, and spaces that are not designed for continuous occupancy like manholes, crawl spaces and tanks.

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Workers face life-threatening safety hazards in those spaces, including exposure to toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation.

“In the construction industry, entering confined spaces is often necessary, but fatalities like these don’t have to happen,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE. “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 gives construction workers protections similar to those the manufacturing and general industry have had for more than two decades. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.

Under the rule a competent person is required to evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces and monitor the atmosphere in the space whenever possible.