A new confined space standard produced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and specifically targeting the construction industry will go into effect in August 2015, supplementing the original standard introduced in 1993 that applies to industries in general. A confined space is defined as any area that is big enough for a person to enter but is not meant for long-term occupation and has limited means of exit. Spaces that could be considered potentially hazardous or contain a material that could engulf a worker require a special permit.
Examples of confined spaces include manholes, tanks and containment cavities. The most common hazard from such a space is the possibility of oxygen deprivation as well as harmful or toxic fumes engulfing the area. Ventilation or removal of toxic liquids are two ways that confined spaces may be made safer for workers.
Although new confined space rules for construction workers are slightly different than those for general industry workers, many companies with a current safety plan should be in compliance. The biggest change is that the owner of the host site will be responsible for coordinating with other employers on a site. Subcontractors will have to tell the controlling entity about their safety strategy and how they plan to execute it.
Anyone who suffers from a workplace injury may wish to consult with an attorney about obtaining compensation. One may get workers’ compensation benefits that will help pay medical bills and other associated costs. It may also be possible to obtain permanent disability benefits if an injured worker is not able to return to work. In the event that an employee dies, a death benefit may be made available to his or her spouse or dependents.