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I am not sure what transpired with this inspection, but the power plant was also cited for these same violations, but all their citations were DELETED and the penalty reduced to $0.00. The citations below were to the contractor who was actually doing the work inside the space. I am not sure, but I would find it hard to imagine that any contractor would have the skills or ability to "reclassify" a PRCS at any workplace. But it appears the host employer somehow got out of all these citations and the contractor did not; at least that is what it looks like from the citations.
To: Metal and Nonmetal Mining Alliance Partners and Stakeholders
From: Neal H. Merrifield, Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health Mine Safety and Health Administration
Re: Confined Space Entry Alert Unsafe work in confined spaces has led to miner deaths and injuries in the metal and nonmetal mining industry.
Recent tragic incidents include: a fatality while cleaning the inside of a tanker railcar and a miner being severely burned during maintenance inside a baghouse screw conveyor hopper. To address these regrettable occurrences and help prevent similar instances in the future, MSHA will be placing special emphasis on enforcing its standards related to entering bins, hoppers, silos, tanks, and surge piles. MSHA and the Industrial Minerals Association-North America (IMA-NA) have engaged the issue of confined spaces as a project within the Alliance between the two organizations. We recommend conducting a hazard assessment and implementing a permitting system as part of a safe entry standard operating procedure (SOP).
OSHA’s new Confined Space standard for Construction requires a “competent person” in two CRITICAL functions; I should also point out these two functions are also CRITICAL within the General Industry functions as well. These include EVALUATING spaces and RECLASSIFYING a PRCS to a non-PRCS.
Evaluation of Spaces
1926.1203(a) Before it begins work at a worksite, each employer must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more of the employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit space, through consideration and evaluation of the elements of that space, including testing as necessary.
1926.1203(f) When there are changes in the use or configuration of a non-permit confined space that might increase the hazards to entrants, or some indication that the initial evaluation of the space may not have been adequate, each entry employer must have a competent person reevaluate that space and, if necessary, reclassify it as a permit-required confined space.
Reclassification of a PRCS
1926.1203(g) A space classified by an employer as a permit-required confined space may only be reclassified as a non-permit confined space when a competent person determines that all of the applicable requirements in paragraphs (g)(1) through (4) of this section have been met:…
But does this mean that the same “competent person” who did the CS Evaluation(s) is also a “competent person” in the requirements to RECLASSIFY a PRCS to a non-Permit Space?
And it has begun... With OSHA's new Confined Space construction standard they stated in 1926.1203(a) that...
Before it begins work at a worksite, each employer must ensure that a competent person identifies all confined spaces in which one or more of the employees it directs may work, and identifies each space that is a permit space, through consideration and evaluation of the elements of that space, including testing as necessary.
OSHA was even kind enough to define the term "Competent Person". It means
one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has the authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.