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OSHA and confined spaces

Colorado workers may benefit from learning more about confined spaces on construction sites and how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is addressing the issue. On May 4, OSHA issued a comprehensive and final ruling on how confined spaces in construction are to be governed moving forward. The new regulations will become enforceable starting on Aug. 3. Employers will now be held to more stringent standards when employees are working in confined spaces.

OSHA officials estimate that the new regulations may result in 780 fewer injuries and five fewer deaths in the construction sector each year around the country. The standards will require employers to identify the different types of confined spaces and the hazards that could potentially exist. The rules also require information on how the safety can be improved, the employee training involved and any rescue plan if an accident occurs. The primary focal points of OSHA's confinement standards are improving communication and training, as well as continuously evaluating the work site.

According to the new rules, confined spaces will now be defined as being work areas large enough for an employee to enter but provide limited access and are not designed for ongoing occupancy. OSHA claims that these types of environments can present atmospheric and physical hazards that can negatively impact workers. Employers will be required to prepare a safety program before employees may enter a permit space, and the controlling contractor is to be the point of contact for any confinement-related issues.

Employees who suffer injuries on the job may benefit from contacting legal counsel in order to determine the remedies that may be available. An attorney can be of assistance to an injured employee in the preparation and filing of a workers' compensation claim for wage and medical benefits.

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