OSHA’s NEW Confined Space Standard for Construction is aimed at better protecting construction workers in confined spaces. The effective date for the new rules is August 3, 2015, but OSHA has extended the enforcement date for 60 days.
Delay in Enforcement Date, with “Good Faith Efforts”
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a 60-day temporary enforcement policy of its Confined Spaces in Construction standard. The effective date of the new standard remains August 3, 2015.
In response to requests for additional time to train and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard, OSHA is postponing full enforcement of the new standard to October 2, 2015.
During this 60-day temporary enforcement period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the new standard. Employers must be in compliance with either the training requirements of the new standard or the previous standard. Employers who fail to train their employees consistent with either of these two standards will be cited.
Factors that indicate that employers are making good faith efforts to comply include:
- Scheduling training for employees as required by the new standard
- Ordering the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard
- Taking alternative measures to educate and protect employees from confined space hazards
The NEW Standard Written for Construction Workers
OSHA issued the Confined Spaces in Construction final rule on May 4, 2015. The rule provides construction workers with protections similar to those manufacturing and general industry workers have, with some differences tailored to the construction industry. These include requirements to ensure that multiple employers share vital safety information, and to continuously monitor hazards — a safety option made possible by technological advances after the manufacturing and general industry standards were created.
OSHA estimates the confined spaces rule could protect nearly 800 construction workers a year from serious injuries from life-threatening hazards.
NOTE: Tennessee OSHA (TOSHA) operates its own worker safety plan, and has said it will follow the same 60-day temporary enforcement policy that the federal OSHA has announced.
Under the OSHA act 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. For more information, visit www.OSHA.gov.
Compliance Help Is Available
Compliance assistance materials and additional information is available on OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction web page.
Why Do Any of Us Work?
Obviously, there’s the paycheck. But, hopefully there’s more to it than that. After all, we work in a great industry:
- There is tremendous variety almost every day. It’s rarely boring!
- Every job is different. Size of the project, the terrain, the location, and the weather, etc. are always different. And every job site is unique. There are new challenges and opportunities nearly every day.
- And, of course, as you work, the results are very tangible, very visible. Luckily, we don’t have to spend too much time at a desk just “pushing paper.” We see the fruits of our work right before our eyes. Buildings. Manufacturing plants. Roads and highways. Utilities. And a lot of what we build could be here 100 years from now. Think about that.
But We Have To Be Careful
Most of the places we work have the potential to be dangerous. Very dangerous. IF we don’t take the proper precautions, and use our heads as much as our hands. The tools and equipment we use, and the job sites themselves, can quickly cause serious injuries. Even death.
Back to Why We Work . . .
All of us have lives outside our work. Families. Hobbies. Travel. Church. You name it. Our work allows us to spend some time doing the things we love.
Just last week, Jimbo Pexton (TrenchSafety’s Territory Manger in our Nashville location) and I were on a construction site in middle Tennessee. As we walked around, we began to notice that all the employees were wearing photo badges. But these weren’t the normal employee ID badges. These had other types of pictures on them.
As we took a closer look at different workers’ badges, we realized that the photos were of people and things that each wearer holds dear. And across the bottom of each badge were the words “Why I Work Safe.” The longer we were there, the more meaningful the badges became to us. Some were pictures of spouses. Some were of their kids. One fellow had a picture of his car, and there was even one with a dog.
Is There a Better Reason to Take Safety Seriously?
Obviously, the contractor on this site takes worker safety very seriously. The most effective reminder possible is never out of sight of every employee.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July Holiday Weekend with those you hold dear.