How OSHA’s New Confined Space Safety Rule Impacts HVAC Contractors

November 3, 2015
2 min read

The employer is responsible for providing a competent person (a trained employee) to inspect all confined spaces before work begins. This person is looking for any hazards which can make the confined space more dangerous, and therefore become a permitted confined space. Workers can only enter a permitted confined space for the purposes listed on the permit under the conditions and restrictions listed on the permit. A hazard warning must be posted at the entry to a permitted confined space and a permit issued that lists all the details regarding work in that particular confined space. There must be an attendant posted outside a permitted confined space any time a worker is in the space. For confined spaces requiring a permit, the HVAC Company generates their own permit not a government agency. The purpose of the permit is to clearly communicate the conditions under which the space may be entered and who may enter.

Communication is key to following the new confined space rule. OSHA is asking employers to document their standard operating procedure for permit required confined spaces and to make sure procedures are followed for general confined spaces so if something goes wrong, the OSHA can track what happened. The rule also ensures a level of quality management so employees that are working in these confined spaces know what the procedures are for working in there. It all goes to making sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Employees will also have to be trained on the hazards that may be found in the confined space and permit-required confined space.

“This rule will save lives of construction workers,” said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. He added that the emphasis in the rule is on training, continuous worksite evaluation, and communication. The agency estimates that the rule would result each year in five fewer construction workers’ deaths and 780 fewer workers being injured due to confined spaces hazards.

Although the ruling went into effect August 3, 2015, OSHA has agreed to refrain from issuing citations to employers of residential companies that are making efforts to comply with the rule.

Contact FIELDBOSS here to find out how FIELDBOSS HVAC Contractor Management software can help keep your technicians safe, ensure all your employees stay connected and keep your company compliant with the new rule.

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