Confined Spaces in Construction Proposed Rule under Analysis

Fatalities and injuries constantly occur among construction workers who, during the course of their jobs, are required to enter confined spaces. The OSHA Confined Spaces in Construction proposed rule was issued Nov. 28, 2007, but has not yet been finalized. Comments on the rule are currently under analysis.

Under the proposed rule, employers would first determine whether there is a confined space at a job site. If there is a confined space, the employer would determine if there are existing or potential hazards in the space. If there are such hazards, the employer then would classify the space according to the physical and atmospheric hazards found in it. 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.

In the meantime, remember these guidelines when working around a confined space:

  • Do not enter permit-required confined spaces without being trained and without having a permit to enter.
  • Review, understand and follow employer’s procedures before entering permit-required confined spaces and know how and when to exit.
  • Before entry, identify any physical hazards.
  • Before and during entry, test and monitor for oxygen content, flammability, toxicity or explosive hazards as necessary.
  • Use employer’s fall protection, rescue, air monitoring, ventilation, lighting and communication equipment according to entry procedures.
  • Maintain contact at all times with a trained attendant either visually, via phone, or by two-way radio. This monitoring system enables the attendant and entry supervisor to order you to evacuate and to alert appropriately trained rescue personnel to rescue entrants when needed.