OSHA issues new standard to protect workers in confined spaces

OSHA has taken concrete steps to ensure the safety of workers in confined spaces.

For many workers, especially those in the construction industry, the hazards they encounter every day in the workplace are too many to name. In an effort to protect these workers - who frequently put themselves in harm's way to complete their jobs - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently implemented a new standard.

As of August 3, 2015, the new standard came into effect governing workers in confined spaces. These spaces can include areas like:

• Manholes

• Attics

• Crawl spaces

OSHA defines a confined space as any area that is big enough for a person to enter, but has "limited or restricted means for entry and exit" and "is not designed for continuous employee occupancy." In other words, it is a small space that has few ways to get in or out and should not be occupied for long periods of time.

The dangers of confined spaces

When someone must work in one of these confined spaces, there are many ways workers could face serious injuries or even death. For instance, if the space does not have sufficient airflow, the worker could be at risk of asphyxiation. In addition, if the worker must quickly exit the space due to a potential danger, he or she could face physical injuries, such as broken bones.

OSHA recognizes a number of other common issues faced by those in confined spaces, including explosions, inhaling toxic substances and electrocutions.

OSHA's new standard

Under OSHA's new standard, employers must engage in extensive planning prior to allowing workers to enter a confined space. They must have an individual evaluate the location of the job for any confined spaces, including those requiring a permit.

The employer must establish a proper way to enter and exit the space, ensure there are ways to ventilate the space to provide proper airflow and control or eliminate other possible dangers in the confined space.

Among many other requirements, the employer will typically be required to continuously monitor the air quality in the space to ensure it is safe for workers. The employer must also verify in writing that the confined space is safe for workers to enter and exit.

Talk to an attorney after a workplace accident

When workers suffer injuries on the job, the resulting time off work to recover can be difficult to manage both emotionally and financially. If you have suffered an injury at work, you need to know that there are options available for you.

Taking the time to talk to a workers' compensation attorney could pay off in the long run. You should not have to worry about how you will pay the bills after suffering an injury at work.