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OSHA changes rules on enclosed spaces

Texas construction companies and their employees should be aware of a final rule issued by OSHA governing confined spaces on a construction site and safety. The rule will take effect on Aug. 3, 2015.

Subpart AA of 29 CFR 1926 directly addresses what sorts of closed and confined spaces a worker can be sent into as part of their employment, what sort of hazards are acceptable while they are within the space, safety measures for dealing with those hazards, procedures for rescue in the case of an accident and training that workers must receive. The ruling defines confined spaces precisely, making it simple to determine when the rules apply. If the space is not designed for continuous occupation, but it is big enough for the employee to get into and has only limited entrances or exits, then it is a confined space for the purposes of this rule. This covers a wide variety of important work spaces, including boilers, manholes, ventilation shafts and storm drains.

The stated aim of OSHA is to save lives and protect the health of workers. The federal agency estimates that as many as 780 injuries will be prevented each year by these rule changes, as well as approximately five deaths annually.

Most construction workers who are injured in a workplace accident have the right to file for workers' compensation benefits, which can include the provision of medical care and treatment as well as compensation equal to a percentage of wages lost during the recovery period. The assistance of an attorney can be helpful in the preparation and filing of the claim.

Source: The National Law Review, "OSHA Issues Final Rule on Confined Spaces in Construction," Bradford T. Hammock, Henry Chajet and Mark Savit, May 15, 2015

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