Louisiana workers and their employers may be interested in new regulations about workers who labor in confined areas during construction projects. The new rules, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, are similar to confined space requirements initiated in 1993, but these new requirements specifically target construction sites. They include work done in spaces such as bins, boilers, silos, vessels, sewers, HVAC ducts and many other types of confined areas.
Confined spaces in work areas are defined as ones large enough for a worker to enter, have minimal ways of exit or entry and are not intended to be occupied for a long period. These close quarters can present both physical and environmental dangers to workers.
The new rules call for the employer or construction site manager to be aware of the areas in which employees will be working, to know the hazards that exist and how they can be eliminated. The regulation also calls for the employer to have a plan in place to rescue workers from the area if things go wrong and for the employer to provide adequate training to workers who are required to work in close quarters. OSHA believes that construction sites for buildings, bridges, utility lines, tunnels and other types will fall under the new regulations.
The federal agency estimates that five lives will be saved and 780 construction injuries will be prevented annually with the initiation of the new requirements. When a worker has died or been injured in a workplace accident, often the injured person or their family will seek input from a lawyer to help them determine what benefits are available and additional legal actions they may consider.