OSHA has just issued new regulations setting standards for working in confined spaces in the construction industry. The new regulations will apply in South Carolina and around the country. A confined space regulation for general industry has been in place for more than 20 years, but the new standard applies specifically to the different types of conditions often present on construction sites.
The new standard is designed to protect construction workers who operate in confined spaces that may be dangerous. The rules will apply in spaces such as manholes, ventilation ducts, storm drains and sump pumps. Under the new regulations, a contractor will be required to have a competent person identify confined spaces that present a hazard. The contractor will also have to put measures in place to minimize the hazard and notify employees of the danger. Only properly equipped and trained employees are to work in the confined spaces.
One feature specific to the standards for the construction industry is a more extensive coordination requirement in order to avoid the situation where one employee unknowingly creates a confined space hazard while working in a nearby area. Construction sites often have employees of multiple subcontractors. This requires a higher degree of coordination between all workers.
The new confined spaces regulation is projected to prevent 780 serious injuries and five deaths at construction sites across the country every year. An employee in the construction industry who is injured while working in a confined space may talk with an attorney experienced in workplace injury cases. The lawyer may be able to assist the injured individual in pursuing OSHA enforcement or legal avenues to obtain compensation for the injury and to force the employer to fully comply with the new standard.