On May 4, OSHA issued a final rule covering workers who enter confined spaces in construction.

In general, the new rule requires employers to:

  • Evaluate the jobsite to identify confined spaces
  • Develop a written program and permitting system for permit-required confined spaces
  • Control physical hazards and conduct monitoring for atmospheric hazards in confined spaces that are permit required
  • Provide training for confined space entrants, attendants, supervisors and emergency duties.

Confined spaces are work areas that are not designed for continuous occupancy and may be difficult to exit in the event of an emergency. In home building, some of these may include manholes, sewer systems, crawlspaces and attics

In addition, home builders who hire trade contractors (i.e., subcontractors) to do work in a confined space may also have responsibilities under the new standard.

Builders, or controlling contractors as OSHA labels them, must discuss permit required confined spaces on the site and their hazards with employers who must enter permit required spaces, as well as each other before and after entering the space.

The new rule takes effect August 3, 2015. For more information and a copy of the rule, visit OSHA’s confined space website: https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/index.html.

Note: South Carolina is a delegated state for workplace health and safety.  That means that while OSHA may implement a new rule in states where it directly regulates workplace safety, states like South Carolina may lag slightly behind in implementing new Federal rules.