Confined space accidents are a serious problem in the United States that affect construction workers and maintenance crews nationwide. Many occupations are dangerous where workers are required to perform their duties under hazardous conditions including in tightly confined spaces.
Confined area fatalities and injuries often involve electrocution, exposure to radiation, toxins, and fumes along with burns from extreme temperatures and explosive gasses and liquids.
Each Chicago confined space accident attorney in our law firm work with victims of these serious accidents and can offer you a free consultation for an injury case via phone call.
Individuals working in confined areas often suffer serious injuries (that rack up high medical expenses for medical treatment) caused by moving parts, lack of oxygen, asphyxiation, or being buried by debris and soil.
Where Do Accidents Happen in Confined Spaces?
Legally, confined space is often defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) according to factors that include the following: only designed for workers for service access, not designed habitation, and a limited means of entry and exit.
A ‘permit space’ is a confined space that is at a heightened risk of an incident due to its irregular shape and lack of fixed walls. Some examples of where confined space accidents and deaths involve:
- Storage bins
- Ship compartments
- Excavated areas
Secondary Fatalities Related to the Rescue of Trapped Workers
Many deaths that occur in confined spaces will involve a secondary fatality where the rescuer also dies. In many of these situations, the rescue was attempted to extract the worker by others not wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) or before the confined area had been tested for safety.
These areas are often flammable, have significant physical barriers, limited areas for ingress and egress movement, or are susceptible to product instability or hazardous energy.
From a legal perspective, the secondary fatality would have similar legal rights for workers’ compensation and wrongful death cases as the individual injured in the original incident under the law.
Closed Space Work Area FAQs
In this section, we provide some answers to frequently asked questions that workers involved in confined space work accidents ask us often.
What Are the Hazards of Working in a Confined Space?
Confined spaces raise a number of hazards for your recreational and occupational health, such as:
- Falling down
- Asphyxiation (i.e. in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere).
- Fatal inhalation (of known or suspected toxic substances)
- Injury to a rescuer
This list of physical hazards and other health hazards is not exhaustive. It shows why there are so many confined space deaths. However, confined space fatalities and similar occupational deaths can be prevented if the physical hazards of the confined space entry are monitored. Learn how to protect workers per occupational safety and health rules in the next section.
What Do You Do When Working in a Confined Space?
You should approach confined space work differently than regular environments because confined spaces are dangerous. Various occupational safety standards set out how you should act.
For instance, at the onset, all risks should be identified within the confined space atmosphere through mechanical or electrical means. Then, you should employ all means to handle those risks including obtaining the personal protective equipment required.
This will limit your occupational safety risks and prevent fatal occupational injuries.
What Is the Definition of a Confined Space Entry at Work?
Confined space entry work means that workers are able to have continuous occupancy to work but their movement is limited (like a tank, vault, or pit.)
Permit-required confined space might have different meanings per the national institute and local health administration offices. They also may have different rules like requiring safety lines attached and proper precautions for carbon monoxide among other things.
A qualified person from the local or United States government office can speak on accidents related to confined spaces and atmospheric hazards. They each require occupational safety and health measures like virtually any occupation takes in accident prevention.
What Is the Acceptable Oxygen Level in a Confined Space Per Occupational Safety Standards?
Per OHSA work procedures, there must be at least 19.5% of oxygen in confined spaces at the minimum.
Fatal occupational injuries related to oxygen deficiency and atmospheric hazards (toxic atmosphere, flammable gasses, sewer gas, toxic gasses, etc.). are common. They also may require more oxygen.
Per safety and health guidelines as well as labor statistics, there are special tools required for atmospheric testing and lockout tagout procedures or restricted means if oxygen levels fall.
Confined spaces should be tested prior to when the worker entered and then continually monitored if trouble develops. One, two workers or more as well as the standby person and would-be rescuers will all be endangered if not.
What the Construction Industry Can Do to Prevent Accidents in Closed Space Work Areas
While these areas are highly susceptible to causing serious injuries or death, nearly all of these fatalities are preventable. Workers can be protected while performing their duties in these confined spaces with safety rules, protocols, and procedures effective at controlling the job site.
To be effective, employers must train workers to obey written rules of how to enter, work, and exit the confined area. Some effective rules include the following:
- Ensure that the confined area remains locked or sealed to prevent any unauthorized entry.
- Post warning signs at the entry of the space.
- Develop, implement, and follow a confined work area plan outlining the procedures, practices, and means used by employees that have the authorization to enter the area.
- Ensure that every worker has all the necessary information and documentation concerning any hazards, toxic fumes, equipment, or dangerous substance use found within the confined area.
- Provide quick access to rescue equipment to every rescuer entering the confined area.
Any individual suffering extensive injuries because of a violation of safety standards should seek legal representation through an experienced personal injury attorney who handles confined area accident cases.
Confined spaces need to be continuously monitored to ensure compliance and to avoid a likely outcome of injury. Labor statistics illustrate how a person working in confined spaces or a co-worker can be pronounced dead if these OSHA mandates are ignored.
Hiring an Attorney for a Construction Accident Claim Involving a Confined Area Injury
Confined area accidents happen to construction workers and maintenance crews who often suffer catastrophic injuries and fatalities that could have been avoided.
Critically injured victims may require lifelong health care and compensation to pay medical bills, hospitalization expenses, loss of income, and intangible damages including pain, stress, anxiety, and suffering.
These types of complex cases require an experienced law firm to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or litigate. Victims and surviving family members of a loved one lost in confined spaces should hire an attorney to seek financial compensation from all parties at fault.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC at (888) 424-5757 concentrates on construction site accidents involving a severe injury or wrongful death. Our attorneys accept these cases on contingency to avoid the need for paying upfront fees.
Our construction worker injury attorneys can serve as your aggressive advocate by gathering evidence, investigating the scene of the accident, speaking to eyewitnesses, and hiring experts to present the case to an insurance company adjuster for an out-of-court settlement or jury award at trial.
Chicago Confined Space Accident Attorneys Committed to Protecting the Legal Rights of Injured Workers
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is a group of construction site accident lawyers committed to protecting the legal rights of people injured while working in confined spaces.
Our personal injury lawyers will investigate and prosecute these cases without any out-of-pocket expenses on your part.
We have had success prosecuting both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of people injured while working in a confined area. Call us today at (888) 424-5757 to start your case today. We don’t cost anything if we don’t win.