By Ellis Brasch
You may have heard that Oregon OSHA recently adopted changes to its confined space rule (437-002-0146) and that the rule now applies to general industry and construction industry employers. The rule became effective for general industry employers on Jan. 1, 2015. Construction industry employers must comply with the rule by March 1, 2015.
Purpose and Application
The standard applies to general industry and construction industry employers whose employees work in or near permit spaces.
Exceptions – 437-002-0146(2)
The standard applies to workplaces in general industry and construction, but there are exceptions for certain types of work that are covered by other Oregon OSHA rules. Specifically:
Evaluation – 437-002-0146(4)
"Evaluation" means that you must identify all the confined spaces at your workplace and determine if those confined spaces have hazards that make them permit spaces.
The evaluation must be done while the confined space is in its normal mode of operation.
A thorough evaluation of a confined space is not necessary if employees will not enter it.
Employers of mobile workers – such as plumbers, electricians, and construction workers – are required to evaluate confined spaces only in work areas they are responsible for, or where their employees are working.
Permit-Required Confined Space Entry Program and Permits – 437-002-0146(5)
If your employees will enter a permit space, you must develop a written permit space program before they enter. There are specific requirements you must follow in developing the program.
At fixed workplaces, employers must list the location of all permit spaces at the site and include the reason each space is classified as a permit space. Permit spaces at unmanned remote locations do not need to be listed until the first time an employee goes to that location.
You must review the permit space program when there is any reason to believe that it does not adequately protect employees.
Permit entry – 437-002-0146(6)
An entry permit describes acceptable entry conditions and verifies that a permit space is safe to enter. "Permit entry" means that one can enter a permit space until the entry permit verifies that the hazards in the space have been eliminated or controlled. There are specific requirements for items that must be included in the permit. Appendix C has an example of an entry permit.
You must develop specific procedures for issuing entry permits. The procedures must include how you will evaluate the hazards in the space and the work done in the space and the conditions necessary for safe entry. It is not necessary to put the procedures in writing.
Equipment – 437-002-0146(7)
You must provide your employees with equipment necessary for them to safely enter and work in a permit space. This section lists the equipment that may be necessary. However, the nature of the entry, the space, and the work performed determine the type of the equipment that employees will need. All equipment must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and employees must be trained on how to use the equipment you provide.
Personnel – 437-002-0146(8)
Working in a permit space involves entrants, attendants, and entry supervisors. Before anyone enters a permit space, you must designate who has each of these duties. This section describes their required duties.
Rescue – 437-002-0146(9)
Before your employees enter a permit space, you must develop specific procedures to remove them in an emergency or when they are unable to evacuate without outside assistance. The procedures do not have to be in writing but they must include the process for summoning rescue, summoning emergency medical services, or transporting injured entrants to a medical facility. Also required is a procedure for ensuring that rescuers have access to safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals that entrants may have been exposed to.
When it is feasible, you must use non-entry retrieval systems or methods for rescues unless they would increase the overall risk to the entrant or would not help the rescue. There are specific requirements for performing non-entry rescues and entry rescues.
You must inform rescue teams about the hazards in the spaces they may need to enter. You are also responsible for ensuring that the rescue teams have appropriate equipment and can efficiently rescue entrants.
Rescue personnel must respond to emergencies in a timely manner. The hazards of the space determine the timeliness needs.
All rescue personnel must know first aid and CPR. At least one member must be certified.
There are specific requirements for employers who use third-party rescue services. If you choose a third-party rescue service, you must ensure that the rescue service agrees to provide the service. You must also ensure that the third party is capable of performing all rescue operations.
Appendix D can help you choose an appropriate rescue service as well as evaluate your own rescue team if your rescue is done "in-house."
Alternate entry – 437-002-0146(10)
"Alternate entry" is a set of specific procedures for entering a permit space without a completed entry permit. Employees may enter a permit space without a permit only after all the hazards have been eliminated or all physical hazards have been eliminated and all atmospheric hazards are controlled with continuous ventilation. You must develop these procedures for each space that employees will enter; they are not required to be in writing.
If you use ventilation to control an atmospheric hazard, you must use equipment to continuously monitor for that hazard.
Alternate entry cannot be used to enter a continuous system unless you can isolate the area to be entered from the rest of the space, can demonstrate that the conditions that caused the hazard or potential hazard no longer exist within the system during the entry, or can demonstrate that engulfment cannot occur and continuous ventilation in the area to be entered is sufficient to control atmospheric hazards.
Entrants must have an effective means of communication – such as a two-way radio, cellphone, or voice – to summon help while they are in the space.
Each alternate entry must be documented with a specific list of items. These items also appear on an entry permit, which can be used as documentation.
Training – 437-002-0146(11)
All employees involved in permit space activities must be trained to perform their duties. The requirement includes rescue personnel and employees who enter spaces under the alternate entry.
Employees who work around permit spaces, but do not have responsibilities associated with those spaces, must have awareness training. Awareness training gives these employees a basic overview of the permit space program, the permit system, and alternate entry procedures. If employees are unable to enter or open permit spaces then awareness training is not necessary.
It is not necessary to document awareness training.
Multi-employer worksites – 437-002-0146(12)
Before another employer’s employees enter a permit space under your control you must tell the employer about the permit space hazards and about any precautions or procedures that your employees follow.
After your employees enter a permit space under the control of someone else (it could be a property owner or a general contractor), inform them about the precautions and procedures you followed and about any hazards that were present during entry.
Records – 437-002-0146(13)
Keep cancelled permits for at least one year from the date the permit expired. Review them within one year of their cancellation to ensure the procedures for issuing them are still effective and the information on them still protects employees who enter the space.
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