Can a single regulatory standard or best practices document adequately address confined space hazards in all types of workplaces? Or do the hazards of confined spaces vary so much from workplace to workplace that no single standard can adequately address all industries?
OSHA’s Permit Required Confined Space Standard published in 1993 covered only general industry and not construction. OSHA indicated that the 1910.146 standard had not included construction due to the unique confined space hazards found in the construction industry. Fourteen years later, in 2007, the proposed OSHA Construction standard was published in the Federal Register. The standard was listed on OSHA's 2012 regulatory agenda, however to date it has not been finalized. When published, OSHA will have separate standards for construction and general industry, as well as Shipyard standards that address confined space hazards in the maritime industry.Oregon OSHA recently published its regulation on Confined Spaces that includes BOTH general industry and construction. This rule, Confined Spaces in General Industry and Construction, become effective in Oregon in April 2013 and covers the safety and atmospheric hazards in both types of workplace settings.
NFPA is developing a Best Practices Document for Confined Space Entry. There is general agreement that this document should include all confined space entries regardless of whether they occur in general industry or construction. Are the hazards of confined spaces similar enough in both industries that a single standard or best practices document is possible? We would love to hear your thoughts on this!