The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on November 29 published in the Federal Register (http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=20174) a proposed rule to enhance the protection provided to construction employees working in confined spaces. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed standard until January 28, 2008.

"The existing construction standard for confined spaces would be updated and comprehensively revised to better protect construction employees from atmospheric and physical hazards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "This rule will reduce the number of construction injuries and fatalities and greatly improve safety and health in the workplace."

The proposed rule addresses construction-specific issues and uses a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to confined space safety by setting out how to assess the hazards, classify the space, and implement effective procedures to protect employees. The proposed rule would require controlling contractors to coordinate confined space operations among a site's multiple employers.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposed rule by January 28, 2008. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov/, the Federal eRulemaking Portal; send three copies to the OSHA Docket Office, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20210; telephone 202-693-2350; or fax to 202-693-1648. Comments must include the agency name and the docket number of this rulemaking, Docket No. OSHA-2007-0026. See the Federal Register notice for more information on submitting comments.