A description of the proposed changes are as follows:

1. TITLE 8:

Chapter 4, Subchapter 7, Article 108, Sections 5157 and 5185;


Subchapter 18, Article 4, Section 8355

Confined Spaces



Existing Title 8 sections 5157 and 8355 require an employer to protect employees from the confined space hazards of an oxygen-enriched atmosphere and to communicate such hazard information to other employers working in or around the confined space. Existing Title 8 section 5158 requires a confined space program for employers not covered by sections 5157 or 8355. Section 5158 does not require employers to protect against oxygen-enriched atmospheres nor does it require that hazard information be conveyed to other employers working in or around the confined space. In 1994, two construction employees working under the requirements of section 5158 died while working in a sewage facility. Allegedly, the construction employer was unaware that the sewage facility used oxygen to accelerate the treatment process. Also, the sewage facility employer was operating under the confined space requirements of section 5157 and was allegedly aware of the hazards of an oxygen-enriched atmosphere. However, the hazard information was possibly not conveyed to the construction employer since the contractor did not fall under the scope of section 5157.

The proposed revisions will specify that all confined space standards address the hazards of oxygen-enriched atmospheres. The proposal will also incorporate work practice and multi-employer communication procedures in sections 5157, 5158 and 8355 to ensure that all employers in or around a confined space are aware of all possible confined space hazards.

This proposed rulemaking action contains several nonsubstantive, editorial, and grammatical revisions. These nonsubstantive revisions are not all discussed in this Informative Digest. However, these proposed revisions are clearly indicated in the regulatory text in underline and strikeout format. In addition, the following actions are proposed:

Section 5157. Permit-Required Confined Spaces.

Existing section 5157 applies to those employers specified in section 5156(b)(1) and contains the requirements for practices and procedures to protect employees from the hazards of entry into permit-required confined spaces.

Existing subsection 5157(c)(2) requires employers to inform exposed employees of the existence, location and hazards of confined spaces in their facility. This hazard information can be conveyed by posting danger signs or the employer may use other equally effective means. The proposed revision will specify that when other employers are performing work in the area, that they be warned of confined space hazards in a similar manner.

Existing subsection 5157(c)(3) requires that when employees are not expected to enter a confined space, the employer shall take effective measures to prevent such employees from inadvertently entering the space. The proposed revision will specify that when other employers are performing work in the area and their employees are not intended to enter the confined space, that similar measures be used to prevent inadvertent entry.

Existing subsections 5157(c)(8) and (d)(11) require host employers to provide their contractors with hazard information about confined spaces and obtain similar information from the contractor if they will be creating a hazard that will affect the host employer's employees. The host employer must also ensure that contractors have a confined space program that meets the requirements of section 5157. The proposal will specify that the host employer have similar hazard communication with employers covered by sections 5158 or 8355 that are working in the confined space. The proposal will also require the host employer to ensure contractors and other employers covered by sections 5158 or 8355 have confined space programs that meet those sections instead of the program requirements of section 5157.

Section 5158. Other Confined Space Operations.

Existing section 5158 prescribes minimum standards for industries and operations specified in section 5156(b)(2) to prevent employee exposure to dangerous air contamination and/or oxygen deficiency in confined spaces.

Existing subsections 5158(a) and (b) state that the scope and definition of confined space hazards covered by the standard include dangerous air contamination and/or oxygen deficiency. The proposed revisions will expand the scope and definitions to include the confined space hazard of oxygen enrichment and allow employers that meet the requirements of section 5157 to be deemed in compliance with section 5158.

Existing subsections 5158(c), (d) and (e) require employers to have an effective confined space operating procedure, employee training program, pre-entry testing and confined space operation. The proposed revisions will specify that the operating procedure and confined space operation address the potential hazards of multi-employer worksites. The proposed revisions will also specify that the requirements of all three subsections address the hazard of oxygen enrichment when applicable.

Section 8355. Confined and Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres.

Existing section 8355 contains the requirements for protecting employees from the hazards of working in confined and enclosed spaces and other dangerous atmospheres in the ship building, ship repairing and ship breaking industry.

Existing subsection 8355(e)(6) requires the employer to exchange hazard information with other employers. The proposal will specify that the employer exchange hazard information with all other employers including those covered by sections 5157 and 5158. The proposal will also specify the type of hazard information to be exchanged.

The proposal is at least as effective as the federal OSHA permit-required confined space standard which has substantially the same requirements in Title 29 CFR 1910.146 for general industry and Title 29 CFR 1915.12 for the shipyard industry.