September 6, 2013
by Stephen Verotsky

Oregon OSHA Backtracks on Confined Space Rule

Stephen VerotskyIn September 2012 the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) adopted a new confined space rule.  Confined spaces, such as tanks, wells, or tunnels, have limited ability to exit, may contain potentially harmful material, and are not intended for human habitation. Workplace safety rules require employers take proper precautions when their employees must work in such spaces. The rules adopted by Oregon OSHA in 2012 made changes to the permitting process and added more restrictions concerning rescue, decontamination, alternate entry and evacuation. 

On September 4, 2013 Oregon OSHA issued a statement indicating it was withdrawing the rule.  Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood explained: “We received questions about certain provisions of the rule and their impacts on the industry.  We concluded there was enough substance to their concerns to justify taking it back to the drawing board. It was simply the right thing to do.”

To avoid problems for employers who moved forward under the new rule, Oregon OSHA will not cite an employer who is in compliance with either the federal rule or the Oregon-initiated rule. Mr. Wood expects a new proposal will be adopted in six months and he emphasized that the new proposal will not include requirements beyond those in the rule being withdrawn.

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