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ABC July 23 testified at an informal hearing on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule on confined spaces in the construction industry.  

During the hearing, Craig Shaffer, a member of ABC’s National Safety, Health and Environmental Committee and president of SafetyWorks, Inc., which provides safety management, training and OSHA compliance consulting to construction workers, commended OSHA for its efforts to promote safety in confined spaces but questioned the need for the specific rule that is proposed.  

“Simply put, ABC does not believe that OSHA has justified the need for this rule.  Neither do we believe that OSHA has demonstrated that the general industry confined space standard is not working for construction and therefore needs to be replaced,” Shaffer said.  “ABC believes that in the absence of such evidence in the record, OSHA’s adoption of the proposed rule would be arbitrary and capricious.”  

“While it can be argued that a few small clarifications and revisions to the general industry standard may perhaps be in order, especially if they would make it easier and less costly for construction employers and employees to comply, the need for a wholesale replacement of a standard that contractors have been successfully complying with for over 15 years is simply not justified,” Shaffer said.  “In fact, ABC believes that the adoption of the proposed rule will actually reduce employee safety rather than increase it, which is clearly contrary to OSHA’s stated intent.”  

Shaffer concluded by saying that ABC agrees with a suggestion by the National Utility Contractors Associations’ recommendation that OSHA incorporate existing standards instead of adopting a new standard.  

“To put it another way, if it’s not broken, then there’s no need or reason to fix it,” Shaffer said. 

For more information, contact Bob Hirsch at ABC, [email protected].