Constructions workers in Oklahoma face many dangerous conditions in the line of duty, one of which is working in confined spaces. There are currently no safety regulations to protect a construction worker against a workplace injury in a confined space. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently enacted a regulation that will give construction workers the same protection that is currently offered to workers in other industries and manufacturing. This new rule will go into operation in August.
OSHA estimates that approximately 800 construction workers suffer workplace injuries or deaths annually because of confined space hazards. The agency is confident that similar incidents will be prevented by the new rule. OSHA officials say the 2014 deaths of two construction workers in another state might have been prevented had the rule been in effect at the time. The construction workers were carrying out repairs in a manhole when they were exposed to fumes that caused asphyxiation for both.
Employers and contractors will now be required to identify confined spaces, share information and provide employees with safety training related to these dangerous areas. These hazards must be monitored continuously. Confined spaces include areas such as manholes, tanks and crawl spaces and must not be occupied for long periods at a time. Confined spaces do not generally allow for a quick escape in the event of an emergency.
The risks associated with confined spaces include electrocution, explosions, toxic fume exposure and asphyxiation. Although the new rule is expected to save the lives of many workers and prevent severe injuries, workers who have to work in confined spaces may be the victims of workplace injuries if safety regulations are violated. Fortunately, compensation for medical expenses and lost income caused by a workplace injury may be pursued by filing a benefit claim through the Oklahoma workers compensation insurance system.
Source: news9.com, “Workers in confined spaces to come under protection rule”, May 1, 2015