Earlier this month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its ruling requiring expanded protections for construction workers in confined spaces.
This ruling brings the construction industry closer in line with the protections offered by other industries, such as manufacturing. The requirements will be modified to better fit the specific needs of those in the construction trade.
Some of the new requirements include the following:
— Providing adequate training to workers
— Multiple companies sharing pertinent safety information on the job site
— Enhanced communication to promote safety
— Continuous evaluation of the work site
OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor stated, “This rule will save lives of construction workers.”
Some typical confined spaces found on construction sites includes tanks, manholes and crawl spaces. None is intended to be continuously occupied, and all present challenges to exit in case of emergencies. Other hazards present in confined spaces include electrocution, asphyxiation, toxic exposure and explosions.
In 2014, two construction workers lost their lives when they were asphyxiated while they worked inside a manhole fixing a leak. The second worker died while attempting a rescue of the first worker.
The secretary of labor estimates the new rule “will prevent about 780 serious injuries every year.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 makes companies responsible for maintaining safe job sites for their workers. Those employers who ignore OSHA safety standards and jeopardize their employees’ health and safety in order to cut corners or increase production face fines, work stoppages and potential civil penalties through litigation and/or workers’ compensation claims.
If you have been injured on the job due to unsafe conditions and your employer balks at approving your claim, you may wish to consult a Philadelphia attorney for advice.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, “Confined spaces rule could protect nearly 800 construction workers a year from serious injuries and reduce life-threatening hazards,” accessed May. 28, 2015