Oregon OSHA is withdrawing the state-initiated confined space rule the agency adopted in September 2012. Employers need to comply with the pre-existing federal rules in general industry, as well as the limited construction requirements previously in place.
To develop a new proposal, Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said the agency will bring together previous advisory groups to review industry concerns about the Oregon rule and its economic effects. He said Oregon OSHA remains committed to a comprehensive rule addressing confined space hazards in general industry and construction workplaces.
"We received questions about certain provisions of the rule and their impacts on the industry," Wood said. "We concluded there was enough substance to their concerns to justify taking it back to the drawing board. It was simply the right thing to do."
In order to avoid creating problems for employers who moved forward under the new rule, Oregon OSHA will not cite an employer who is in compliance with either the federal rule or the Oregon-initiated rule. Wood expects a new proposal will be adopted in about six months. He emphasized that the new proposal will not include requirements beyond those in the rule being withdrawn.
"The state rule will be the starting point for our new proposal – we may reconsider some provisions, but we aren't planning to add any new ones," he said.
Confined spaces, such as tanks, wells, or tunnels, have limited ability to exit, may contain potentially harmful material, and are not intended for human habitation. Workplace safety rules require employers take proper precautions when their employees must work in such spaces. In Oregon, Oregon OSHA enforces those rules.
For more information on the federal confined space rule that is being temporarily restored in Oregon, go to www.orosha.org/pdf/rules/division_2/div2_j-prior.pdf for general industry and www.orosha.org/pdf/rules/division_3/div3c-prior.pdf for construction.
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