Work in confined spaces is dangerous. Workers can all too easily be sickened by toxic fumes, scorched by flammable vapors set alight by a stray spark, or simply overcome by a lack of oxygen. Every year hundreds of workers die in confined spaces -- a third of them trying to rescue someone else.
Perhaps because so much construction work happens outdoors, people in other industries don't see confined space hazards as a construction problem. We know otherwise. Every day men and women in the building trades enter tanks, pipes, manholes, crawl spaces and other areas with limited access and limited ventilation. Inside, they weld, strip, paint, seal and glue. Sound precautions can be the difference between life and death.
Those precautions are now included in OSHA's new confined space standard for the construction industry. It provides construction workers the same protections afforded to workers in general industry, and comes more than 20 years after the general industry standard was promulgated.
Over the past several years we have seen an increase in the demand for confined space training CPWR offers under our cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The push by our training consortium of building trades unions and their employers to have qualified instructors in place to teach workers about the dangers of working in confined spaces is a reflection of the industry's awareness about the hazard.
So we are pleased that OSHA has published a confined space rule for construction that will offer men and women of the trades the same protections that general industry workers have long enjoyed.Like their counterparts elsewhere, construction employers will have to provide adequate air monitoring and a sufficient escape and rescue plan before sending an employee into such an environment.
Since the 2015 "Stand-Down" to stop construction falls began Monday, thousands of construction contractors and construction workers have paused their work to address this number one killer of workers on the job. Won't you join them? Visit Stop Construction Falls and find out how you can play your part!
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CPWR -- The Center for Construction Research and Training is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Working with partners like you in business, labor, government, and the universities, we strive every day to make work safer for the 9 million men and women who work in the U.S. construction industry!