Confined Space Entry Standard for Construction – August 2015

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety

August 2015

IN THIS ISSUE: Confined Space Entry Standard for Construction

Beginning this month, OSHA will enforce a new confined space entry rule for construction (OSHA 1926.1200 to 1926.1213). While general industry has had a permit-required standard for many years (OSHA 1910.146), the construction industry had only one general provision that applied to confined spaces. OSHA has determined this new rule, similar to the general industry standard, will provide greater guidance and information to reduce injuries and fatalities.

David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupation Safety and Health writes, “This rule will save lives of construction workers. Unlike most general industry worksites, construction sites are continually evolving, with the number and characteristics of confined spaces changing as work progresses. This rule emphasizes training, continuous worksite evaluation and communication requirements to further protect workers’ safety and health.”The new standard covers all construction employers whose employees may be subject to confined space hazards. Exceptions include excavations, underground construction, caissons, cofferdams, compressed air and diving, which are separately regulated. It gives examples of more than 30 (but not all) confined spaces that are subject to this rule. For those employers that have not implemented confined space entry procedures, it will require the implementation of a written permit-required confined space program that includes:

  • Survey of confined spaces and determination of those which may require a permit
  • Process for issuing permits
  • Permits and their requirements
  • Training
  • Duties for authorized attendants
  • Duties of attendants
  • Duties of entry supervisor
  • Rescue and emergency services
  • Employee participation

For those employers who currently follow the general industry standard but may be subject to construction regulations, it is important to note that the new rule incorporates construction specific provisions, reflects advances in technology, and improved enforceability of the requirements. The new standard places emphasis on training, monitoring/evaluating, and communications requirements. It also adds three new provisions to clarify existing general industry provisions:

  1. Employers should prevent workers’ exposure to physical hazards through elimination or control.
  2. When relying on local emergency services, the employer should alert the emergency services of this and ensure that the emergency services, in turn, inform the employer if something arises which would prevent them from responding to an emergency.
  3. Provide training in a language and using vocabulary that is understood by the employee. If work assignment or conditions change, further training may be required.

The standard calls for better coordination on multi-employer work sites. This is essential because the construction industry often involves many contractors and subcontractors.

  • The controlling contractor, not the host employer, is the primary point of contact for information about permit spaces at the worksite under the new standard and is also responsible for making sure employers outside a space know not to create hazards in the space and that entry employers working in a space at the same time do not create hazards for one another’s workers. 
  • The host employer must provide information it has about permit spaces at the worksite to the controlling contractor, who then passes it on to the employers whose employees will enter the spaces.
  • Entry employers must give the controlling contractor information about their entry program and hazards they encounter in the space, so that the controlling contractor can pass that information on to other entry employers and back to the host.

The standard also requires the following:

  • Identification of confined and permit-required spaces on the site must be made by a competent individual.
  • Continuous atmospheric monitoring and monitoring of engulfment hazards.
  • Permits may be suspended rather than canceled.
  • Employers who direct employees to enter a confined space without a complete permit system, may only do so if the hazard is first eliminated.
  • Hazards are not introduced to a confined space by workers performing tasks outside the space.

For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or visit us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health. OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

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