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OSHA issues safety guidelines for home construction

Pennsylvania construction companies engaged in residential building have guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on work in confined spaces. For home builders, confined spaces commonly include basements, attics and crawl spaces.

OSHA issued a fact sheet jointly with the National Association of Home Builders. It helps to provide advice on how federal safety standards for work in these types of confined spaces can be met by employers in the residential construction sector. The safety rules are available on OSHA's website and apply to spaces that are sufficiently large for a worker to enter, but have restricted or limited means of entry and egress and are not designed for ongoing or continuous occupancy.

While some types of confined spaces could require a permit for work to take place, OSHA said that in general, attics, basements or crawl spaces do not meet those criteria. In order for a space to be considered permit-required, it must have certain kind of hazardous conditions present. These types of spaces include those with a hazardous atmosphere, an engulfing material or an internal configuration that could trap a worker in converging walls or a sloping, tapered floor. One possible space that could require a permit for work is an attic with extreme heat posing a serious physical hazard. The level of heat required to make a permit necessary could lead to heat exhaustion, severe sweating, cramps, dizziness and headaches. In general, basements that are designed for ongoing occupancy are not considered confined spaces.

Whether working in confined spaces or in open construction areas, building projects can be dangerous with a serious potential for workplace injuries. Construction workers who are injured on the job can consult with a workers' compensation lawyer to find out more about the process of applying for benefits under their employer's insurance coverage.

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