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Policy regarding confined spaces extended by OSHA

Construction industry employers in New York and across the country are probably aware of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's temporary enforcement policy regarding confined space activities. According to OSHA's recent publication entitled Confined Spaces in Construction, employers in charge of residential-type construction had until Oct. 2 to conform to new confinement space regulations. However, the agency recently extended the temporary enforcement policy to Jan. 8, 2016, but the change does not apply to employers involved in non-residential construction.

The agency noted that the extension will allow employers involved in residential construction work to avoid being cited for confined spaces in construction standard violations, as long as the employer is progressing with good-faith efforts to cooperate with the provision's requirements. The standards include safety training of employees who work in enclosed or confined spaces, which must include an emphasis of the specific dangers involved, how to use protective equipment and important safety measures to take. Furthermore, employers are expected to comply with particular guidelines that specifically pertain to any unsafe or potentially unsafe work environments.

The report outlined an explanation of good-faith efforts, which OSHA will take into consideration when it evaluates if employers are in compliance with the new standard. Some of those include the employer's attempts to educate employees about the risks of confined spaces and if the employer is in the process of purchasing the required equipment outlined in the new standard.

People injured in a construction accident may be covered by their employer's workers' compensation policy and are thus eligible to file a claim for benefits. Because the filing process is subject to strict time and other requirements, many injured workers obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney during the process.

Source: Safety BLR, "OSHA further extends confined space enforcement deadline", Oct. 16, 2015

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