Construction standards for confined space entry have been defined and set for enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These standards are now specifically for the construction industry. The previous regulations only applied to general industry. Still others are covered under the American National Standard ANSI Z117.1-1989, Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces.
OSHA General Industry regulation 1910.146, permit-required confined spaces, details the practices and procedures for safe entry for work in a permit-required confined space. This regulation does not specifically apply construction work.
OSHA regulation 1926 applies to construction safety and health. It does address some construction standards for a permit-required space regulation. The following portions of 1926 apply to confined space entry in construction work:
Sub-part C – 1926.21 Safety training and education covers the requirements for safety training prior to entering and working in a confined space. It defines a confined space as “any space having a limited means of egress, which is subject to the accumulation of toxic or flammable contaminants or has an oxygen deficient atmosphere.”.
Sub-part S – 1926.8 applies to the construction of underground tunnels, chambers, and passageways. It also includes cut-and-cover excavations that are connected to underground construction operations. These are covered in a manner that creates conditions characteristic of underground construction.
1926.956 covers underground electric transmission and distribution work. It includes guarding and ventilating street openings used for access to underground lines or equipment. 1926.956(a) applies to trenching and excavating. 1926.956(c), other related operations.
1926 Sub-part P contains additional requirements for confined space entry applying specifically to excavations.
1926 Sub-part J applies to welding and cutting in confined spaces.It includes requirements for ventilation and protection while welding, cutting, and heating plus other confined space related regulations.
Finally, a new standard recently adopted, OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Sub-part AA, now specifically defines construction standards for permit-controlled confined spaces and is set for enforcement. After years of feedback and analysis, OSHA felt that an updated, specific standard was necessary to more thoroughly handle the construction industry.
Other general construction standards guidelines which are applied to confined space work beyond OSHA regulations are found in American National Standard ANSI Z117.1-1989. These are Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces which provide minimum safety requirements for entering, exiting, and working in confined spaces at normal atmospheric pressure.