OSHA issues final rule on confined spaces

OSHA's final rule amending the standard on permit-required confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146) became effective February 1.


OSHA's final rule amending the standard on permit-required confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146) became effective February 1.

New provisions specify that employers must provide authorized permit space entrants or their authorized representatives an opportunity to observe any testing of the space conducted prior or subsequent to the entry. A subparagraph within the provision addresses the use of calibrated direct reading instruments. OSHA said that allowing this observation helps ensure that the testing was done properly, respirators and other PPE being worn are appropriate, and entrants understand the nature of the hazards present in the workplace.

There are several other important provisions of the revised confined spaces rule.

- The standard creates greater employee participation in the permit space program and access to information developed under the standard.

- The final rule strengthens and clarifies the criteria employers must satisfy when preparing for the timely rescue of incapacitated permit space entrants. The standard also discusses general training requirements, training with retrieval equipment, first aid training, and the use of appropriate PPE.

- A new paragraph ensures employee involvement in permit space program development and implementation. A nonmandatory appendix was added to assist employers in selecting appropriately trained and equipped rescuers.

A copy of the 23-p final rule is available by contacting Bruce Clash at 703-525-1695, or visit the OSHA web site at www.osha.gov, click on the "new" button, and scroll down to the December 1 Confined Spaces line.

Are you in compliance?

The start of 1999 means that several new OSHA rules are reaching their deadlines for compliance. For more information on any of the rules, visit the OSHA web site at www.osha.gov.

1/5/99 -- Respiratory protection: 1910.134. Penalties will be enforced for noncompliance after this date.

2/99 -- Recording injuries and illnesses: 1904. OSHA Form 200 must be posted during February.

4/10/99 -- Methylene chloride: 1910.1052. Engineering controls must be implemented by foam fabricators with 150 or more employees, and by other employers with 50 or more employees in the listed application groups.

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