OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA: Construction vs. Maintenance Work

The addition to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926 was designed to protect employees engaged in construction activities at work sites with one or more confined spaces.

A confined space is not designed for human occupancy. It has limited means of entering or exiting and can have a potentially hazardous atmosphere. Confined spaces may be poorly ventilated and, as a result, lack adequate oxygen or contain dangerous levels of toxic gases.

Before standard 29 CFR 1926, OSHA’s confined space regulations only applied to general industry. A gap grew obvious when the department of labor statistics reported most confined space fatalities were occurring during construction activities.

The new standard is very similar to the previous one, but applies directly to work in construction. It requires a permit to enter, pre-entry testing and continuous monitoring while inside the confined space.

While this new standard closes the gap in construction work, it leaves out one important component: maintenance.

Construction work” is defined as work for construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating. For example, replacing or upgrading equipment, or refinishing the walls. Workers performing these activities are protected by the standard.

Maintenance, on the other hand, is generally defined as keeping equipment working properly by taking steps to prevent its failure or degradation. For example: changing a light bulb, or cleaning a piece of equipment. Although these activities occur within a confined space, they are NOT subject to the new standard.

Perhaps we have noticed a new gap in worker safety.


Read more about OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA

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