Ohio workers and their employers should be aware of information surrounding workplace injuries caused by confined spaces. Despite attempts to decrease the risk of injury and death due to these types of accidents, they are a still a common hazard in many types of workplaces. Both employers and employees can mitigate this risk by being informed of current regulations and taking extra precautions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a confined space as one that is large enough for a worker to enter completely and perform the assigned tasks but not designed to be occupied continuously. The space must also have restricted points of entry and exit. Many types of workplaces have confined spaces, especially in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Unfortunately, workers often become trapped in the space and die of asphyxiation or exposure to hazardous chemicals or gases.
There have been attempts to limit the dangers to workers. OSHA created a performance-oriented standard for confined spaces. This gives employers a great deal of leeway to determine how best to keep employees safe in their specific situation. Unfortunately, some employers do not take the standards very seriously, and they use the flexibility of the regulations to improvise substandard solutions that do not adequately protect the life and health of workers. Unlike many workplace hazards, which are likely to result in injury but are usually not fatal, confined space hazards often present an immediate danger to life.
A worker who is injured due to a confined space accident may seek workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills and a percentage of lost wages. Such a claim is not a lawsuit and can be filed regardless of who was at fault. An employee who has evidence that the employer violated safety standards or did not follow OSHA regulations may wish to discuss a lawsuit with an attorney in lieu of filing a claim.