Critics Rip OSHA's Construction Confined Space Standard

OSHA's long-awaited construction confined spaces proposed standard is taking its lumps from stakeholders. Several petitioned for an extension in the original comment period after OSHA published the proposal Nov. 28, 2007, and the agency agreed. With comments now due by Feb. 28, small construction companies and some big building groups are weighing in, negatively.

Several elements in the proposal displease the construction community, it appears. Jim Redmond, Safety and Health Services director for General Building Contractors of New York State Inc. (the New York State Building Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America), said his group was troubled to see "controlling contractor" language in the proposed rule because they opposed it in OSHA's steel erection standard and believe it is legally questionable. Redmond mentions a 2007 case, Summit Contractors, in which OSHRC vacated an OSHA citation against the general contractor for allegedly failing to ensure a subcontractor's masonry workers were protected from falls on a job site. This decision, which hsa been appealed by the Labor Department to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, invalidated OSHA's multi-employer enforcement policy, and Redmond said it is "absurd" to have "controlling contractor" language now used in the confined spaces standard.

Ted Saito, Safety & Insurance Committee member for the Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, said the proposed standard "will not help or improve safety, and instead will only make the regulation more complex and difficult to interpret. We believe that including additional confined space classifications, re-evaluating procedures, early warning systems that have not been developed, additional reassessment requirements in the event of an emergency, requirements for rescue procedures and equipment that have not been proven, and malfunction determination and reassessment in the event of a ventilation failure will not provide any additional benefit for workers or their employers."

And a fire department's representative, Raymond Lussier, commented that the proposed standard would allow contractors to use municipal responders for rescue, but those responders "will not be any more trained, available, equipped or even willing to provide these services in spaces that can change daily" than was the case when OSHA's general industry confined spaces standard, 1910.146, was enacted. Then and now, municipal fire and rescue were not considered a good option, Lussier said.

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - May 2022

    May 2022

    Featuring:

    • WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY
      How Wearable Technology is Transforming Safety and the Industrial Workplace
    • TRAINING: CONFINED SPACES
      Five Tips to Improve Safety in Confined Spaces
    • INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE
      Monitor for Asbestos to Help Save Lives
    • PPE: FALL PROTECTION
      Fall Protection Can Be Surprising
    View This Issue