The Air Conditioning Contractors of America is concerned that the attics many member companies work in could soon fall under a proposed OSHA rule, resulting in added expenses and regulations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is considering regulations governing “confined” spaces, which could include the attics, crawl spaces and other small areas where many HVAC technicians work. The proposed rule was published in November and hearings were held July 22 and 23. OSHA will take more public input for the next month.

ACCA officials say the proposal is complex and confusing and add it may not protect workers or ensure safe work practices.

This is not the first time OSHA has considered regulations on confined spaces in construction, ACCA points out. In 1980, the administration took comments on a similar proposal, but nothing was ever enacted into law. In 1993, OSHA required general employers to secure permits for working in confined spaces, but it exempted construction from the rule.

Nevertheless, most construction companies have followed the 1993 rule, because it is easy to understand, ACCA officials say. The new proposal includes four categories of confined spaces that would require extensive new training for contractors, accrording to the contractor group.

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America expressed its opposition on a 2003 small-business panel, preferring existing regulations be kept.