Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, HVAC techs and many other tradesmen find themselves crawling around attics and crawlspaces on a regular basis. Now they are going to need to bring one more piece of equipment with them - a personal 4-gas monitor. OSHA has recently clarified their standard concerning these very routine work areas and they are officially now classified as confined spaces.
Confined spaces are inherently dangerous, and OSHA's not unreasonable response is to require additional safety. There is sure to be some eye-rolling from the folks affected by this new clarification. But OSHA is a force of nature. Slow and plodding, sure. But now that the ruling has come down, folks working in attics and crawl spaces will either suit up with an appropriate confined space gas monitor or run the risk of OSHA fines.
We all know this will affect the small businesses and contractors the most. While even the least expensive monitor is several hundred dollars, there are four-gas personal detection units that are relatively inexpensive and provide very good protection and value for the money. Gas Clip Technologies makes the Multi Gas Clip with Pellistor Combustible Sensor detecting H2S, CO, O2 and LEL. This monitor has a typical battery life of 25 hours and all the bells and whistles of the more expensive monitors.
However, as modern as they have become, gas monitors are a pain in the neck. There are no two ways around the fact that buying the monitor is just the first step, and probably the easiest. All monitors must be charged, maintained, calibrated with specific cal gas, and the information from the monitors may need to be downloaded in the event of serious accident. That's a lot to add to the plate of independent plumbers and construction workers.
Here are some of the highlights of the clarification of the PRCS standard. Each company will have to assess their job site to determine the presence of confined spaces. Workers required to go into confined spaces will need to test with a "calibrated direct-reading instrument" for 02, LEL, CO, and H2S. Permits are required, but the contractor doesn't need to go to the building department for this and can write them up and post them themselves. However, only those employees specifically trained and authorized will be allowed to enter the permitted confined space and this adds another burden to business owners and responsible parties on the job sites. In some cases, an attendant will need to be monitoring the confined space from outside.
So to recap, extra safety equipment, increased training, and ongoing maintenance. Safer is better, but some companies will find this a tough change to make.
If you have questions about this new clarification in the permit-required confined space rules, please feel free to give us a call at 800-829-9580 or visit us online at pksafety.com.