OSHA Issues Temporary Enforcement Policy for Confined Spaces in Construction

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On May 4, 2015, OSHA issued its final rule on Confined Spaces in the Construction Industry, found at 29 CFR 1926.1201-1213. The rule becomes effective August 3, 2015. However, as matter of policy, OSHA is postponing full enforcement of the rule until October 2, 2015. OSHA has adopted this 60 day postponement to allow employers additional time to train employees and acquire the equipment necessary to comply with the new standard.

During this 60-day period, OSHA will not issue citations to employers who exhibit good faith efforts to comply with the new rule, such as:

  • Scheduling employee training on the requirements of the new rule
  • Ordering new equipment necessary to comply with the rule
  • Taking other alternative measures to protect, and fully educate, employees regarding confined space hazards

Employers are not relieved of the obligation to comply with the rule‚ requirements, but for the next sixty days likely will not be cited for violating the rule if the employer can demonstrate that it has already undertaken concrete steps to become compliant.

Employers engaged in construction activities will be well served to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the new construction related confined space rule. For more information, contact Tom Ullrich or Derek Brostek at Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver.

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Region III OSHA Inspection Report; May 2015

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OSHA‚ Region III area consists of Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

During May 2015, the Department of Labor reported at total of 220 OSHA inspections taking place in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with 14 of those inspections originating from the Norfolk office, and 206 originating in other offices. By way of comparison, during May 2014 OSHA conducted 17 inspections originating in the Norfolk office and 252 inspections originating from other Virginia offices taking place during that time.

Reported OSHA inspections occurring in the remaining Region III States are as follows:

Pennsylvania (federal OSHA plan): 220 inspections
West Virginia (federal OSHA plan): 31 inspections
Delaware (federal OSHA plan): 12 inspections
Maryland (state plan): 98 inspections
District of Columbia (federal OSHA plan): 30 inspections

Please note that not all OSHA inspections are reported on OSHA‚ inspection database website.
OSHA may inspect a worksite under various sources of authority, including inspections
conducted as the result of a complaint- generally lodged by an employee who reports purportedly unsafe working conditions to OSHA; as the result of a referral- generally from the media due to reports of an incident (e.g, accident involving injuries) taking place at the worksite; as part of an OSHA program (programmed inspection)- these inspections take place because the employer appears on a list created by OSHA relating to an emphasis program it has undertaken, including National Emphasis Programs (e.g., fall protection, chemical issues (PSM-related processes)); or self-reported fatalities or injuries taking place at the facility (e.g., employer contacts OSHA pursuant to regulations mandating reporting certain incidents).
If your worksite is inspected, feel free to contact our firm with any questions you may have
regarding the OSHA citation defense process. OSHA will issue citations from any given inspection within six (6) months from the beginning of the inspection. In federal OSHA plan states, you only have 15 working days to contest the citation, including the proposed penalties and abatement periods set forth therein, from once it is received. If you participate in an informal settlement conference, this participation may not toll the time in which you must issue a notice of contest. If a timely notice of contest is not provided, you may lose your right to contest the proposed citations, including the attendant penalties and abatement periods. Once your notice of contest is received, OSHA or its state-plan equivalent will initiate the prosecution of the proposed OSHA citations by filing a complaint against your company.

Source: www.osha.gov.

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