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Confined Spaces in Construction

In May of 2015, OSHA issued a new standard for Confined Spaces in Construction. This standard introduces several important changes that employers need to be aware of. The LHSFNA's Occupational Safety & Health Division has created the following resources to help contractors understand the new standard at a glance. Following the guidelines below will help ensure compliance with the standard and keep workers safe on the job. 

Definitions

Roles and Responsibilities

Entry Procedures and Sample Entry Permit PDFs (Option 1 and Option 2)

Equipment

Monitoring

Training

Rescue/Emergency Services

The following steps detail the order of events required by the standard to occur before, during and after entry into a confined space.

 

Before Entry

  1. Controlling contractor gets information from Host Employer about potential PRCSs and gives the information to all Entry Employers.
  2. Entry Employers designate a competent person who evaluates spaces to determine if they are PRCSs.
  3. Post notices for PRCSs and inform all others on worksite about them, warning them against and preventing unauthorized entry.
  4. Development of a written permit space program with the participation of employees and their authorized representatives, including a system for cancelling permits.
  5. Designate each person with an active role in the program (entrants, attendants, supervisors, air monitors) and their duties.
  6. Identify the rescue and emergency services and verify they can respond effectively and will give immediate notice if they are unavailable. Rescue services must have access to the space for practice sessions. Make available safety data sheets (SDSs) or information on chemicals to medical facilities.
  7. Develop procedures to coordinate with others on the site that might be affected.
  8. Set up barriers around each PRCS.
  9. Test conditions in PRCSs before any changes to natural ventilation are made and before entry.
  10. Isolate physical hazards in the PRCS to the extent feasible. Purge, make inert, flush or ventilate the space to control atmospheric hazards.
  11. Eliminate any conditions that could make it unsafe to remove an entrance cover.
  12. Set up a continuous monitoring system or arrange for periodic monitoring where continuous monitoring is not commercially available.
  13. Provide an early warning system for non-engulfment hazards set to warn entrant with enough time to escape.
  14. Train all employees with active roles in the PRCS and train all other employees on the site to avoid the PRCS and not attempt rescue efforts. Train in-house rescue units, including first aid/CPR.
  15. Complete an entry permit.
  16. Assign an attendant and entry supervisor to each space. Ensure the attendant understands the hazards, symptoms and their duties and can perform them effectively. Determine if an attendant can perform duties at more than one space effectively, if there are multiple spaces.
  17. Provide the equipment necessary for safe operations including non-entry retrieval equipment.
  18. Ensure all entries have been made on the entry permit.

 

During Entry

  1. Continuously maintain an accurate count of entrants including their identity.
  2. Maintain communications with entrants to assess status and need to evacuate.
  3. Assess conditions inside and outside the PRSC that may affect safety of entrants.
  4. Order evacuation of the PRCS if there are any prohibited conditions, behavioral effects, outside situations or if the attendant can’t perform their duties.
  5. Summon emergency/rescue services when there is a need for assistance.
  6. Perform non-entry rescues when needed.
  7. Prevent non-authorized employees from entering a PRCS.
  8. Test conditions in the space in the following order and monitor: oxygen, combustibles and toxics.
  9. Allow employees and their authorized representatives the opportunity to observe monitoring.
  10. Record all test results on the permit and immediately provide the results to all entrants and their authorized representatives.
  11. Reevaluate the space in the presence of any entrant or their representative who requests it.
  12. Review entry procedures whenever conditions indicate employees may not be protected and correct any deficiencies before subsequent entries.
  13. Coordinate with any other employers who also enter the space or work nearby and might create a hazard in the space.
  14. Require use of chest, full body or wristlet/anklet harnesses.
  15. Maintain an attendant on duty at all times; the attendant should not leave the PRCS until relieved by another one.

 

After Entry

  1. Cancel/suspend the entry permit.
  2. Review canceled permits at least once a year.
  3. Retain documents required by the standard and make them available on request to the Department of Labor. 

 

For more information on keeping confined spaces safe on your site, contact the Fund's Occupational Safety and Health Division at 202-628-5465.

Additional Resources

  • The CPWR created this table comparing the general industry rule for confined spaces to the new construction-specific rule.
  • OSHA's Confined Spaces page contains more information on the hazards present and the new construction-specific standard. OSHA also created this small entity compliance guide to help employers protect workers in confined spaces.
  • Click here to download a PDF of the standard in its entirety.