WASHINGTON - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing a new standard to protect employees from the hazards resulting from exposure to confined spaces in the construction industry.

OSHA does not believe that the existing general industry (shops) standard adequately addresses the unique characteristics of confined spaces in construction. Therefore, similar to the existing general industry standard, employers would be required to inspect jobsites and identify confined spaces. However, under the proposed rule for construction sites, employers would have to classify the confined spaces into one of four classifications rather than the two classifications in the existing standard.

The four classifications are: Isolated-Hazard Confined Space, Controlled-Atmosphere Confined Space, Permit-Required Confined Space, and Continuous System-Permit-Required Confined Space. The proposed requirements for each type of confined space are tailored to control the different types of hazards.

A copy of the Federal Register version of the proposed rule has been made available at the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association’s (SMACNA’s) Safety Website at www.smacna.org/safety/. Comments are due to OSHA by Jan. 28, 2008. SMACNA is inviting members to submit their comments or case studies for inclusion into SMACNA’s comments on the proposed rule.

SMACNA members can contact Mike McCullion, director of safety and health, at mmccullion@smacna.org or 703-995-4027, to submit comments.

Publication date:12/24/2007