POST #2 – Special care and attention must be given when determining which OSHA requirements for confined space entry apply to your specific work situation. Federal OSHA health and safety regulations pertaining to confined space entry operations can be found in the 29th Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR. More specifically, the Federal OSHA confined space entry standards are located in three different parts of the CFR. Those are:
- The Part 1910.146 confined space standards, which apply to general industry operations;
- The Part 1915 confined space standards, which apply to the maritime industries; and,
- The Part 1926 subpart AA confined space standards, which apply to the construction industry.
OSHA Confined Space Standards for General Industry
The worksites regulated under the Federal OSHA permit-required confined space entry standards for general industry found in 1910.146 include, but are not limited to, most fabrication and manufacturing operations, chemical and processing plants, transportation and warehousing operations, and most service industries. Be aware, however, that there are many other sections of the 1910 General Industry standards for confined space entry that could also apply to work conducted inside confined spaces at general industry worksites, and which must not be overlooked. These include, but are not limited to, 1910 Subpart I, which contain the standards for Personal Protective Equipment, also known as PPE. That subpart also contains the standards for implementing a Respiratory Protection Program to protect workers from hazardous atmospheres, where applicable.
1910 Subpart J contains the rules for “the Control of Hazardous Energy”. These standards, which are also known as the OSHA lockout-tagout standards, often come into play when isolating a confined space from certain hazards before entry. And 1910 subpart Z lists the various permissible exposure limits, or PEL’s, for general air contaminants. That subpart also includes the OSHA 1910.1200 Hazard Communication standard, which addresses Safety Data Sheets and other forms of communication about hazardous chemicals and products present in the workplace, including inside many confined spaces. Another 1910 general industry rule that could have application during work involving confined space entry include 1910.268 – Telecommunications, which addresses entry into underground tele-com vaults and manholes. In addition, section 1910.252(c)(4) of the OSHA welding standards apply to ventilation when welding inside of confined spaces.
OSHA Confined Space Standards for Construction
Federal OSHA also has health and safety standards that regulate the construction industries, and those are found in Part 1926 of the CFR. Originally, the construction rules did not contain a comprehensive confined space entry standard. But in 2015, which is more than 20 years after they published their confined space entry standard for general industry, OSHA finally published a new confined spaces in construction standard. It is located in Subpart AA of the OSHA construction standards. That standard applies not only to confined spaces found at new construction projects, but also to confined spaces at major renovation worksites, as well as those encountered at demolition work sites. The bulk of the newer 1926 construction standards for confined space entry are very similar to the previously-discussed 1910 confined space entry standards for general industry, but with a few major requirements when it comes to responsibilities of general contractors and the Competent Person at construction sites.
There are also a few 1926 construction standards outside of Subpart AA that apply to work conducted inside of confined spaces at construction sites. Those include, but are not limited to, 1926.59 – Hazard communication, 1926 Subpart E – Personal protective and lifesaving equipment, 1926.57 – Ventilation, 1926.55 – Gases, vapors, fumes, dusts, and mists, and 1926.353 – Ventilation and protection in welding, cutting, and heating.
OSHA Confined Space Entry Standards for Maritime
Last but not least, the OSHA CFR also has confined space standards which regulate the maritime industry. Part 1915, Subpart B, contains standards for confined space entry during ship building, ship-breaking operations, and all other areas of shipyard employment. There are also several other related standards sprinkled throughout the 1915 standards. Most of the shipyard standards are significantly different than the confined space standards for general industry and construction. For example, most work conducted inside confined and enclosed spaces in maritime operations is overseen by a Marine Chemist who is registered with OSHA, or by a Certified Industrial Hygienist. Furthermore, OSHA distinguishes between “confined spaces” and “enclosed spaces” in shipyards.
Exceptions to OSHA’s Confined Space Entry Standards
One other thing to know about this subject is, you should always read the section of OSHA confined space entry regulations titled “Scope”, as that will usually provide specific guidance on where a particular OSHA standard or subpart does, or does not, apply. For example, section 1926.1201(b) of the OSHA confined spaces in construction standard, which is titled “Exceptions”, states that the standard does NOT apply to the following: (1) Construction work regulated by subpart P, Excavations; (2) Construction work regulated by subpart S, Underground Construction, Caissons, Cofferdams and Compressed Air; and, (3) Construction work regulated by subpart Y, Diving.
Further Guidance on Confined Space Entry Standards and Requirements
Further guidance on the application of OSHA’s confined space entry standards can be obtained via our comprehensive online confined space entry training courses for construction and for general industry, or in an on-site class conducted by one of our confined space trainers.
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