Whether you have a crawl space under your home or an unfinished attic, you sometimes must access these places to perform certain tasks, including working on wiring, plumbing or the HVAC system. Even if you hire someone to do the work, you need to ensure these spaces are as easily and safely accessible as you can make them. Following are some pointers on crawlspace and attic safety.
New regulations have been issued by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazard Act) regarding crawl space safety on construction sites. While it’s unclear if these regulations affect individual technicians working on a residence, they may. Here are some of the regulations that might affect how technicians work in a homeowner’s attic or crawlspace:
- If confined spaces exist, they may have to be tested with a calibrated instrument for oxygen content, flammable gases and vapors, and any potential airborne toxins.
- Permits will be required, although a contractor may write them up and post them without going to the building department and applying.
- Only trained, authorized employees may enter the permitted space.
- The employer may need an attendant to monitor the space from outside, depending on circumstances.
What the Regulations Mean
These new regulations could add significantly to the costs of HVAC maintenance, installation and repairs.
While those in the affected trades are trying to sort these regulations out, homeowners doing their own work should focus on making their attics and crawl spaces as safe as they can. Here are some tips:
- If it’s hot, run a fan. Take frequent breaks.
- Wear lightweight, long-sleeved clothing that protects you from insulation, exposure to insects or other hazards. Wear a hard hat if you can, or maybe a hoodie or baseball cap to protect your head from protruding nails.
- If possible, clean up debris in the work space before the job begins. Make note of loose boards, exposed wiring, hot water pipes or any other potential hazards.
- Wear a respirator and safety glasses.
For more on attic and crawl space safety, contact NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating of Martin, Palm Beach and Indian River counties.