- Know Your Rights if You are Injured in a Confined Space
- January 6, 2019
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the United States Department of Labor sets out laws and regulations to help employees work safely.
Among the many OSHA concerns is keeping workers safe in confined spaces, emphasizing care when the going gets tight.
Definition of confined spaces
The design of confined spaces do not usually allow for continuous occupation, but they have enough room so that workers can go in and perform certain tasks. Workers know that there is usually a limited means of entry or exit in a small area. Types of confined spaces include vaults, pits, manholes, tanks, silos, hoppers, storage bins, tunnels, ductwork, pipelines and equipment housings. There are specific OSHA standards for use of confined spaces in various types of work, such as construction, shipyard employment and general industry.
Certain types of confined spaces are more dangerous than others, and OSHA attaches a special term to these: “permit-required confined space.” This refers to one or more specific characteristics:
- Contains material that can entrap or engulf
- May have a hazardous atmosphere
- Has floors that slope downward into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate someone
- Has walls that lean inward
- Contains exposed live wires, heat stress or unguarded machinery
Rights for workers
OSHA is strong on the rights of workers. For example, workers must receive training or information about possible workplace hazards, how to prevent them and how OSHA standards apply. They must have working conditions that are free from the possibility of serious harm. They must also be able to exercise their rights without fear of retaliation, such as bringing safety concerns to the attention of their employer or OSHA.
Help for job-related injuries
Injuries that occur in confined spaces can be very serious. If you are injured on the job, you will want to know your rights. You may be eligible to apply for workers’ compensation to cover your medical expenses and any loss of wages.