DES PLAINES, IL - In a letter sent to the Assistant Secretary of Labor, Edwin G. Foulke Jr., the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) said the proposed rule on Confined Spaces in Construction, recently published by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is unduly complicated, introduces unnecessary new terminology and requirements that are burdensome, and fails to recognize current safety practices that have proven successful.

“This rule, if adopted without significant changes, would provide for a significantly lower level of safety than what is currently required throughout the construction industry by the Z117.1-2003 standard,” noted President Michael W. Thompson, CSP. “Rulemaking that provides less worker protections than that provided by a widely adopted voluntary consensus standard like Z117.1 goes against OSHA’s duty established under the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995.”

This Act states that all federal agencies and departments shall use technical standards that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies, using such technical standards as a means to carry out policy objectives or activities determined by the agencies and departments.

Thompson also noted that rather than adding clarity or advancing safety consistent with current industry safety practices, the changes offered in the proposed rule add a new level of complexity to the work of ASSE members and employers, while adding little to the approaches already being used to address confined-space risks.