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Hazards faced by workers in confined spaces

Construction workers and repair technicians in Ohio sometimes need to enter tight spaces that could be exposed to dangers like electrical wires or high temperatures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published guidance to help employers recognize confined spaces and evaluate their possible threats before workers enter them.

Spaces that are not meant for continuous human occupation generally define a confined space. People have the ability to enter these areas, like a crawl space, but movement is restricted by the dimensions of the space and exit might be awkward.

When potentially dangerous conditions exist within a confined space, safety regulations might require a permit before work can be done. Examples of hazards include a noxious atmosphere, material that could engulf a person or space dimensions that might trap or even suffocate a person. The basements, attics and crawl spaces of homes would not generally need a permit for workers to enter, but exceptions such as an extremely hot attic could arise. Excessive temperatures could cause a worker to pass out and need rescue.

A worker who does suffer an injury in a confined space or other type of construction site accident could make a claim for benefits through workers' compensation. Access to this insurance depends on reporting the workplace injury to the employer. A worker who has trouble getting information about the benefits because an employer discourages injury reports may want to speak with a lawyer. The attorney might advise the victim about how to make a claim or possibly file a personal injury lawsuit if the employer violated safety regulations. For an insurance claim, the lawyer could arrange for the worker to receive a fair medical evaluation. Attempts by the insurance company to limit benefits might be challenged by the attorney during negotiations or in court.

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