New confined space requirements that were approved in May 2015 by OSHA went into effect in August of the same year. However, there was a temporary enforcement period between August and October that has been extended until January 2016 for employers engaged in residential construction. If an employer is engaged in nonresidential construction, the new safety equipment and training standards are in effect.
OSHA has stated that it will not issue any citations for employers who are making a good faith effort to comply with the rules. For instance, if an employer has not completed required training but has scheduled training courses, there will be no penalty until January 2016 at the earliest. OSHA will also consider an employer to have made a good faith effort if that employer has purchased safety equipment or has otherwise taken steps to educate and protect workers from the hazards of confined spaces.
The new rules are intended to provide construction workers with the same protections afforded to those in the manufacturing and general industry. One difference is that if there are multiple employers on a single job site, all employers must share vital information with each other. However, all employees who must work in confined spaces must be educated as to the hazards that they face, what to do in case of emergency and how to use protective equipment.
Those who have been injured while on the job may wish to talk to an attorney about the process involved in filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can include medical expenses and the payment of a percentage of wages lost when an injured employee is unable to return to work.