Confined spaces are work areas that provide enough space for a worker to perform work but have restricted or limited points of access and exit. They are typically not suitable for extended periods of occupation. These dangerous areas are present on various work sites in California, and noncompliance with prescribed safety standards can lead to workers’ compensation claims for serious injuries or worse.
Dangerous confined spaces include utility holes, vats, tanks, tunnels and various other spaces that pose threats of entrapment, asphyxiation and other potentially deadly consequences. Employers must ensure that employees know the dangers posed by these areas. A permit requirement process must be in place, along with proper safety training, personal protective equipment and the necessary monitoring devices.
A confined space becomes a permit-required space if there is any risk of the presence of a hazard that could cause physical harm or death. Potential dangers include a hazardous atmosphere, walls that converge inward, or sloping or tapered floors. The presence of material or substances that could engulf a worker can also deem a space confined and requiring a permit for entry.
Another characteristic of confined spaces is the restricted access that prevents quick escape or rescue in the events of emergencies. Victims of confined workspace injuries can rely on the California workers’ compensation system to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. An attorney with experience can assist with the benefits claims process. Legal counsel can also provide support and guidance to surviving family members of workers who lost their lives in confined spaces. They can claim death benefits to cover burial and funeral costs.