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New OSHA standard for confined spaces

Many construction employers in Louisiana are now subject to the new Confined Spaces in Construction standard that was published by the Occupational Safety and Health Association in May 2015. Though the standard was published in May, employers were subject to a temporary enforcement policy until Oct. 2. The temporary enforcement policy has been extended until Jan. 8, 2016 for residential construction employers only.

According to a memorandum from OSHA, residential construction employers will generally not be cited for violations of the confined spaces standard until Jan. 8. However, residential construction employers must make a good-faith effort to comply with the standard before then, and they will be cited for violations of the standard if they are failing to do so.

The new safety standard for work in confined spaces requires employers to inform workers about the hazards of entering a confined space. Employers are also required to instruct workers about how to take safety precautions and train them in how to use protective equipment in the confined space. The new standard is similar to the safety standard that was already in place for manufacturing and industrial workers, but it has added sections that are specific to the construction industry.

Workplace injuries can occur in a confined space when appropriate safety precautions are not taken. A worker who has been injured in a confined space on the job may want to have the assistance of an attorney in the preparation and filing of a claim for workers' compensation benefits under the employer's insurance policy. Benefits that may be available can include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment.

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