Confined Spaces Standard Revised; Webcast Will Address Changes

Recognizing the need to protect workers who enter, exit, or work in confined spaces, the American Society of Safety Engineers recently announced the approval of the newly revised ANSI/ASSE Z117.1-2009 Standard, Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces. To discuss the revisions, ASSE will offer a webcast titled "Changes to the ASSE/ANSI Z117.1 Standard--Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces," on Sept. 30, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Central Time.

The webcast will allow participants to interact with Terry Krug, vice chairman of the Z117 Accredited Standards Committee, and to look at the changes to the standard that will impact employers and operations. The webcast also will serve as the first opportunity to obtain the newly revised standard.

The ANSI/ASSE Z117.1 voluntary consensus standard, which was approved on July 27, 2009, with an effective date of Nov. 2, 2009, establishes minimum safety requirements to follow while entering, exiting, and working in confined spaces at normal atmospheric pressure. The standard does not pertain to underground mining, tunneling, caisson work, intentionally inert confined spaces, or other similar tasks that have established national consensus standards.

According to ASSE, during committee revision meetings regarding the 2003 version of the Z117.1 standard, the Z117 ASC reviewed current available data and information addressing confined space incidents and noted that evidence suggests that the cause of death associated with confined space entry has not changed appreciably during recent years.

The standards committee said a review of 200 confined space fatality cases from the OSHA database occurring between 1993 and 2004 confirmed that the distribution of causes had not changed to any significant degree. The committee also noted that approximately 65 percent of incidents with fatalities involved atmospheric contamination and engulfment accounted for less than 10 percent of the identified causes. However, the fatality cases in this sampling do not represent all U.S. confined space incidents resulting in fatalities, the committee noted.

The aim of the newly revised Z117 standard is to provide for the minimum performance requirements necessary in developing and implementing a comprehensive confined space program for the protection of workers. For more information on the standard and webcast, or to register for the webcast, contact ASSE customer service at 847-699-2929, customerservice@asse.org or go to www.asse.org/education/z117-webinar.php.

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