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Issue 43, May 2015

OSHA Acts on Confined Space Rule
Work in confined spaces is dangerous. Workers can all too easily be sickened by toxic fumes, scorched by flammable vapors set alight by a stray spark, or simply overcome by a lack of oxygen. Every year hundreds of workers die in confined spaces -- a third of them trying to rescue someone else.


Perhaps because so much construction work happens outdoors, people in other industries don't see confined space hazards as a construction problem. We know otherwise. Every day men and women in the building trades enter tanks, pipes, manholes, crawl spaces and other areas with limited access and limited ventilation. Inside, they weld, strip, paint, seal and glue. Sound precautions can be the difference between life and death.


Those precautions are now included in OSHA's new confined space standard for the construction industry. It provides construction workers the same protections afforded to workers in general industry, and comes more than 20 years after the general industry standard was promulgated.


Over the past several years we have seen an increase in the demand for confined space training CPWR offers under our cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The push by our training consortium of building trades unions and their employers to have qualified instructors in place to teach workers about the dangers of working in confined spaces is a reflection of the industry's awareness about the hazard.


So we are pleased that OSHA has published a confined space rule for construction that will offer men and women of the trades the same protections that general industry workers have long enjoyed. Like their counterparts elsewhere, construction employers will have to provide adequate air monitoring and a sufficient escape and rescue plan before sending an employee into such an environment.


Labor Secretary Thomas Perez estimates the new rule will save some 780 construction workers from suffering serious injury every year. We applaud OSHA for taking this much-needed step. For more information about the proposed rule, visit OSHA's Confined Spaces page.



Have you joined the campaign to  



Since the 2015 "Stand-Down" to stop construction falls began Monday, thousands of construction contractors and construction workers have paused their work to address this number one killer of workers on the job. Won't you join them? Visit Stop Construction Falls and find out how you can play your part!

Pete Stafford

Executive Director    


Recently Published Journal Articles by CPWR Scholars 

Musculoskeletal concerns do not justify failure to use safer sequential trigger to prevent acute nail gun injuries. Hester Lipscomb, James Nolan and Dennis Patterson.  American Journal of Industrial Medicine, April 2015.

Mortality among sheet metal workers participating in a respiratory screening program. Laura Welch, John Dement, and Gavin West. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, April 2015.

Occupational and non-occupational factors associated with work-related injuries among construction workers in the USA. Xiuwen Sue Dong, Xuanwen Wang and Julie Largay.  International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, March 2015.
Long-term health outcomes of work-related injuries among construction workers -- Findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Xiuwen Sue Dong, Xuanwen Wang, Julie Largay, and Rosemary Sokas . American Journal of Industrial Medicine, March 2015.





CPWR -- The Center for Construction Research and Training is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Working with partners like you in business, labor, government, and the universities, we strive every day to make work safer for the 9 million men and women who work in the U.S. construction industry!