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New rule issued to protect workers in confined spaces

When you’re working on a construction site or fixing roads, there are often times when you may find yourself in a small space. Sliding into manholes or crawl spaces may be necessary to finish the job.

In such cases, though, you are at risk of serious injury. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers in small, confined spaces face many dangers, including:

  • Explosions
  • Electrocutions
  • Toxic substances
  • Asphyxiation 

Often, there are not many ways to enter or exit these spaces, making it very difficult to get out quickly if there is an emergency. Also, these confined spaces are not meant to be occupied for long periods of time — in other words, the danger of working in a confined space increases when the worker must remain in the small area for a significant period.

The new rule will require employers to frequently monitor possible dangers on the job site. In addition, when there are multiple employers involved in the same project, it will require them to share information that could keep workers safe.

Overall, the rule provides extra safeguards for workers in confined spaces, to make certain that dangers that could be prevented are avoided. For instance, employers will be required to provide safety training to workers who will be in confined spaces. The rule is similar to rules already in place for manufacturing workers.

According to the Secretary of Labor, the rule is expected to avoid approximately 780 serious injuries to construction workers each year.

Do you work in confined spaces on construction sites? What do you do to stay safe?

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