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OSHA issues new enclosed space rules

Many Pennsylvania employees have to enter and perform tasks in many different types of enclosed spaces during their work day. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently issued a new standard that will govern how those enclosed spaces must be prepared and maintained for safety on construction sites. It supplements the original standards, adopted in 1993, that apply to all occupations.

The intent of the new standard is to improve workplace safety for construction employees. The federal agency believes that the risks and dangers inherent in a building under construction, along with the fact that there are often multiple employers whose workers are performing different tasks, justified a separate rule, which will go into effect in August 2015.

Most construction sites will have a general contractor as well as several subcontractors. The owner of the site, also known as the host employer, must provide all relevant information about the enclosed spaces of the work site to whatever contractors may be controlling the site. The controlling contractors are then responsible for instructing and maintaining communications with any employee or other individual who may go into the particular space under their jurisdiction. The system is designed to facilitate regular flow of information up and down the hierarchy.

Construction sites can be dangerous to those who are working there, and despite all safety precautions, accidents do happen. Those who are injured on the job as a result of a fall or other type of accident may want to speak with a workers' compensation attorney to determine the procedure involved in filing a claim for benefits.

Source: OH&S Online, "OSHA's New Confined Space Standard", Chris Irwin and Jessica Smith, July 1, 2015

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