For Pennsylvania workers who do residential construction in confined spaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a fact sheet for employers to assist in worker safety. The fact sheet deals with OSHA’s Confined Spaces in Construction standard and how employers can meet that benchmark. Confined spaces are defined as those that allow a worker to enter but are not made to be occupied continuously. They are also spaces for which entering or existing is restricted. Spaces in residential homes such as attics, crawl spaces and basements are generally not considered to be confined spaces that the OSHA standard applies to although there are some exceptions.
Some confined spaces might also include hazardous materials, and it may be necessary to obtain a permit before work can be done in them. Hazardous conditions may include a potentially hazardous atmosphere, a confined space containing material that could overwhelm a worker entering, or a space designed in such a way that a worker could be trapped in it.
Other conditions could trigger the need for a permit in spaces not ordinarily considered confined. For example, an attic that is extremely hot or a basement or crawl space that contained a hazard such as a live electrical wire might be considered a hazardous confined space.
Workers may still be injured in one of these confined spaces whether or not the employer has correctly observed workplace safety standards. They may also become ill due to exposure to hazardous materials. If either of these happens, they may want to have an attorney’s assistance when preparing and submitting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.