Although Oregon OSHA's new confined space rule, 437-002-0146, Confined spaces, doesn't become effective until April 1, 2013, it's not too early to highlight its key sections and requirements. Because the new rule applies to general industry and construction industry workplaces, Oregon OSHA will repeal paragraph 1926.21(b)(6) in Safety training and education – the existing confined space requirements for the construction industry – and include a note referring employers to 437-002-0146, Confined Spaces, in its Division 2, general industry requirements.
Here's a plain-language summary of the requirements in each of the rule's key sections, including requirements that will likely interest construction industry employers.
Identify all enclosures at your workplace that have the characteristics of a confined space and evaluate each space to determine if it's a confined space or if it has hazards that make it a permit space. Do not allow any employees to enter a confined space until it has been fully evaluated.
If your workplace has a permit space, your employees must know where it's located, that it's hazardous, and that it's a permit space.
If you have mobile employees, you must determine whether there are confined spaces or permit spaces at the sites where they will be working.
At workplaces where confined spaces are being built, host employers or controlling contractors do not need to evaluate confined spaces unless:
Before your employees enter a permit space, you must develop a written permit-space program and an entry permit that meet the requirements of 437-002-0146(5). You must also develop a procedure for issuing an entry permit that describes how to:
Before your employees enter a permit space, you must ensure that all hazards associated with the space have been eliminated or controlled. A completed entry permit, signed by the entry supervisor, verifies that hazards have been eliminated or controlled. The entry supervisor must post the permit on the space so that authorized entrants can see it.
When work begins inside the space, you must ensure safe conditions are maintained until the work is finished. Essential conditions for maintaining safe entry include:
The following equipment must be available to employees when they enter permit spaces:
You also need to make sure employees are trained to use any equipment you expect them to use, and that it is used and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
This section describes the duties and responsibilities of entrants, attendants, and entry supervisors. Before an employee enters a permit space, you must designate who has each of these duties.
Entrants are the employees you allow to enter a permit space. Attendants monitor the entrants' activities from outside the space. The entry supervisor ensures that attendants and entrants follow entry procedures.
Before anyone can enter a permit space, you must ensure that experienced emergency responders will be available if an entrant needs help. Responders must be able to reach the space promptly and know how to deal with the emergency.
You must have a procedure for removing employees when they are unable to self-rescue. The procedure must include the process for summoning rescue services and transporting injured entrants to a medical facility. You must use nonentry methods for rescuing employees unless such methods are infeasible or would increase the risk to the employee.
You can use an on-site rescue team or a third-party rescue service. It's important only that the responder meets your needs in an emergency.
When you use a third-party rescue service, ensure that the service:
Alternate entry is a method for entering a permit space without a written permit space program or an entry permit. However, 437-002-0146(10) requires employers to document each entry and to follow specific entry procedures. Your employees may enter a permit space under alternate entry only after you do one of the following:
Alternate entry cannot be used to enter a permit space that is a continuous system (such as a sewer) unless you isolate the area to be entered from the rest of the space, or you demonstrate and document that hazardous conditions do not exist within the entire system during the entry.
This section requires that employees involved in permit space work have the understanding, knowledge, and skills about permit spaces necessary to perform their duties. Each employee's training must be documented, including the employee's name, the trainer's signature, the training date, and the employee's responsibilities.
You must also provide awareness training to all employees who work in areas where permit spaces are present, but who are not involved in permit space work. Awareness training must explain:
When employees other than yours enter permit spaces under your control, inform their employers about the hazards in the spaces and about any precautions or procedures that you require to protect your employees.
Coordinate entry operations with the other employers when their employees will be working in or near the same permit spaces. After the operations are finished, discuss any hazards that employees created or encountered.
After your employees enter a permit space not under your control, inform the controlling contractor and the host employer about the precautions and procedures you followed and about any hazards that were present during entry.
Keep cancelled entry permits for at least one year from the date the permit expires. See also, 437-002-1910.1020, Access to Employee Medical and Exposure Records.