California employees in various industries face the risks posed by confined spaces. It is an occupational hazard that leads to numerous workers’ compensation claims each year. It is crucial for both workers and employers to understand when a space qualifies as confined and which of those areas must be regarded as permit-required spaces.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a confined space is an area that is large enough to accommodate a worker to perform tasks for limited periods. However, regardless of the size of the space inside, if there are limited means of entry or exit, it must be regarded as a confined space. Even something as large as a tanker is a confined space due to the small opening that will jeopardize a quick escape in an emergency.
If such a space contains potential hazards that could cause physical harm or death, only permit holders can be allowed entry. This can ensure that the time spent inside a hazardous space is monitored in the interest of the permit holder’s welfare. The risk factors include potentially hazardous atmosphere, materials or substances that could engulf a worker, or some other health or safety hazard. Only when none of these hazards exist can a confined space be regarded as a non-permit required area. Employers must ensure that atmospheric tests are done to identify hazards, and appropriate personal protective equipment such as respirators must be provided when necessary.
Workers who have suffered confined space-related health damage or physical injuries while on duty will be entitled to claim insurance benefits. The California workers’ compensation system covers medical expenses and lost wages for victims of workplace accidents. Legal counsel is available to assist with the navigation of benefits claims.