In 1993, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began work
on a rule for confined space in construction. The Advisory Committee for Construction
Safety and Health (ACCSH) established a working group that provided recommendations
for a standard in 1994.
In 1999-2000, OSHA gathered feedback from stakeholders through hearings across
the country. The agency convened a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (SBREFA)
on Sept. 26, 2003, to solicit comments about the draft proposal and the economic
impact on small entity representatives (SERs). AGC was represented on the SBREFA
panel with several members acting as SERs. The SBREFA Panel Report was published
in November 2003.
On November 28, 2007, OSHA published the proposed rule for Confined Space
in Construction for public comment. AGC submitted comments on February 28,
2008 and will testify at an informal public hearing on July 22, 2008.
To view the proposed rule and AGC’s comments click here.
AGC submitted comments on February 28, 2008 expressing concern that the proposed
rule for confined space in construction will be complicated and costly. AGC
is concerned about the enforcement of and compliance with vague definitions
throughout the proposed rule and also, the language included in the proposed
rule on controlling contractor/host employer.
The notice for proposed rule-making (NPRM) states that employers must determine
if there are confined spaces on the job site, according to the proposed rule
and if such a confined space exists, the employer would determine if there
are existing or potential hazards. If there are such hazards, the employer
would then classify the space according to the physical and atmospheric hazards
found in it. The classifications for confined space in construction are: Isolated-Hazard
Confined Space, Controlled-Atmosphere Confined Space, Permit-Required Confined
Space, and Continuous System-Permit-Required Confined Space. The proposed requirements
for each type of confined space are tailored to control the different types
AGC has several significant concerns over the NPRM including; record keeping
requirements, cost impacts on small businesses, vague definitions in the proposed
standard for confined space “in or near” a job site, the definition of “controlling
employer” and their responsibilities, and potential impact on classifications
currently used by the industry.
OSHA will review all of the comments from both the notice for proposed rulemaking
(February 28, 2008) and the public hearing (July 22, 2008). The agency will
make the necessary changes and modifications to the proposed rule, at which
point the final rule will be published. This process could potentially take
anywhere from six months to several years. Congress may also step in as they
did with the Payment of PPE standard, and set specific requirements and a deadline
for the agency to finalize the rule.
For more information:
Director, Safety and Health
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