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OSHA issues new standard for confined spaces in construction

Construction industry employers in Minnesota and across the country must follow at least one more new set of requirements as of Aug. 3, 2015, when a new rule finalized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on May 4 goes into effect. This new standard, Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926, governs confined spaces in certain types of construction projects as well as the employer's related obligations for ensuring workplace safety.

OSHA's comprehensive final rule defines a confined space as a work area that is large enough for an employee to enter but which has limited means of egress and is not intended or designed for continuous occupancy. Prior to permitting any employee entry into a confined space that meets this definition, the employer must prepare a written program that identifies the kinds of confined spaces present on a particular project, the possible hazards and how those hazards should be corrected.

The confined spaces rule additionally requires the written program to indicate the training that employees should receive as well as detail how to rescue workers in case of a resulting workplace accident. When confined spaces, as defined by the rule, are present on a construction site, the employer must proactively take steps to prevent entry by employees who are not permitted to work in those spaces.

Despite all safety precautions, accidents will continue to happen on job sites around the country. Those who are injured as a result may choose to file a claim for worker's compensation benefits, which can provide medical care and treatment as well as a portion of wages lost during the victim's recovery period. The assistance of an attorney can often be helpful during the preparation and filing of the required claim.

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