OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published general industry standards and construction industry-specific standards for engaging in work within confined spaces. It is important to know the differences between these standards as well as the defined roles for workers in confined spaces and their requirements for training such as confined space rescue training and high angle rescue training. This way, you can remain compliant with mandated standards and prevent hazards relating to confined workspaces.
Both the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.146 (confined space standard for general industry workers) and 26 CFR 1926 Subpart AA (confined space standard for the construction industry) are aimed at the protection of workers entering or working in confined spaces. By the nature of their environment, confined spaces are considered some of the most hazardous areas to work in. In addition to their restricted entry/exit points, they also create limited movement, which can make work as well as a rescue in case of incidents, extremely difficult and hazardous. As such, it is paramount that you follow confined space standards as set by OSHA to keep your workmen safe.
General industry vs. Construction Industry Confined Space Standards
The general industry and construction industry confined space standards contain many of the same requirements, although there are key differences between them that employers and employees must be aware of.
For instance, in the construction industry, it is highly unlikely for just a single employer to be operating at a single build site. This is especially true in complex projects. This is why OSHA’s enhanced confined space standards for construction takes into account detailed provisions when it comes to situations when there are multiple contractors, employers, along with subcontractors at a worksite, especially when they need to enter or access the same confined area or space. In such situations, the burden of compliance with construction standards is on the host employer of the site, who must then ensure that all parties involved follow OSHA mandates. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure compliance because both the host employer and the contractors involved can be cited for violations under OSHA’s policy.
A key feature of the new confined space safety regulations for the construction industry is the additional defined roles for those involved in working within permit-required confined spaces. The roles include authorized entrants to space, attendants, entry supervisors, and emergency and rescue personnel, for which OSHA requires confined space rescue training and high angle rescue training.
Confined space emergency and rescue personnel must undergo special training for confined spaces and high angles to ensure proper handling of such types of emergencies. Employees conducting these rescues must likewise be provided with the right PPE and rescue equipment, all the while being trained in the proper and proficient use of such equipment.
Impact Safety has a complete list of OSHA-recommended confined space training programs, including for confined space entry, confined space rescue, and confined space competence, all of which are designed to cover all important aspects of confined space work in the construction industry as well as other general industries.