The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has issued a final rule designed to provide added safety for construction employees who work in confined spaces that are not designed to be occupied on a continuous basis. Since manholes, tanks, ducts, tunnels, silos, and other confined spaces typically lack an emergency escape route, workers are often placed at increased risk for a variety of injuries and tragic deaths.
According to OSHA, the rule was created after two workers were asphyxiated while repairing a manhole. Sadly, one employee was killed while attempting to save his coworker. In addition to asphyxiation hazards, workers who operate in confined spaces also suffer harm caused by heat, toxic chemicals and other substances, explosions, and electrocution. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated that, although construction employees regularly enter confined spaces, fatal accidents do not have to result from doing so. Perez estimated that nearly 800 severe injuries may be prevented by the new rule each year.