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Confined spaces present risks for construction accidents

Construction work presents a myriad of dangers for Connecticut workers. From crane accidents to scaffolding falls, each jobsite presents many potential hazards for a worker to be injured on a construction site. One potential source of injury for construction workers is in confined spaces.

A confined space is a space that is large enough for a worker to enter, but is not intended for continuous occupancy and has limited means of entry or egress. A sewer, boiler or crawl space would qualify as a confined space.

OSHA has issued a standard for confined space construction work aimed at preventing injuries and death for people working in these potentially dangerous spaces. The standard aims to both isolate and eliminate particular hazards of confined spaces. The new construction confined space rule, which will become effective in August, 2015, must be followed if construction work is underway.

The confined space rule imposes additional requirements to improve safety. A work site must be evaluated with the goal of identifying confined spaces. Continuous atmospheric monitoring must be performed when possible, as well as continuous monitoring of engulfment hazards, such as the possibility of a flash flood. Additionally, the rule requires better coordination between employers when more than one employer is working on a jobsite.

The rule is significant because it mandates that employers must identify the spaces in which their workers are working, as well as the potential hazards of those spaces. Then, it requires safety considerations, such as how those hazards can become less dangerous and how to initiate rescue operations if a worker's safety is compromised.

There is always the potential for injuries on a construction site, but OSHA's updated rule aims to make the working conditions for construction workers, including those working in confined spaces, as safe as possible.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Confined Spaces: Frequently Asked Questions," accessed June 5, 2015

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