Oregon OSHA Plans Confined Space Changes

Two public hearings are set for Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 on its proposed rule that would include the construction industry in its scope.

Oregon OSHA announced it will conduct two public hearings on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 to discuss its proposed rule that would include the construction industry in the scope of a new confined spaces rule, OAR 437-002-0146. The first hearing will take place in Portland and the second in Eugene.

The proposed rule will eliminate the distinction between a permit-required confined space and a non-permit-required confined space. Under it, a space with no actual or potential hazards will be classified as a confined space, and one with actual or potential hazards will be a permit-required confined space. "We also eliminated and combined the frequently confusing language of alternate entry and permit space reclassification," the agency explained in its announcement of the hearings. "Undr the proposal, a permit space is always a permit space, and can only be entered with a permit or under alternate entry procedures."

The requirement of a written confined space program is not changing. On fixed sites, the program should identify all confined spaces and the reason why permit spaces are classified as permit spaces, under the proposed rule. For mobile workers, it would waive the requirement for annual rescue training by rescue tems -- but only if the rescue personnel have access to the space or a simulation of a similar space to develop a plan and practice a rescue before any entry is made.

The rule also makes it clear that any service relied on to be a confined space rescue provider must be knowledgeable and capable of performing rescues. Employers relying on a fire department or a contract rescue service must ensure the department is aware it has been designated and has agreed to it, or the service is equipped, trained, and available to perform when needed, according to the rule.

The comment period closes Oct. 14. For more information, contact Dave McLaughlin at 503-947-7457 or dave.j.mclaughlin@state.or.us

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