Fatal Work Accidents in North Carolina Caused by Confined Spaces

Some employees have to work in small spaces. For many, such conditions might spur claustrophobia. For these workers, it’s just another day on the job. These tiny spaces are referred to “confined space,” and it’s traditionally referred to as working in an area that has very few entrances and exits, is unfavorable for natural ventilation and is not intended to for human occupation for any extended period of time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These small areas can sometimes produce dangerous air contaminants, increasing the risks for work-related accidents in North Carolina and elsewhere. These spaces can also make everyday tasks more difficult. These workers must do their jobs in close quarters with high-powered tools, falling debris and little room to escape. Planning and preparation is the best way to avoid one of these accidents, but this kind of work is a group effort.
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Confined Areas Can Include:

-Boilers.

Reaction Vessels.

-Degreasers.

-Vats.

-Silos.

-Pits.

-Process Vessels.

-Compartment of Ships.

-Storage Tanks.

-Underground Utility Vaults.

-Tunnels.

-Sewers.

-Exhaust and Ventilation Ducts.

-Pipelines.

Our North Carolina workers compensation attorneys understand that there are more than 90 workers killed every year while working in confined spaces. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an all-time low of these work fatalities in 1990 at 81 to an all-time high of 100 in 2000. In between these years, the average number of yearly fatalities was 92.

To help keep an eye on these kinds of work accidents, investigators with the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program examine each and every fatality associated with confined space-related accidents. Since the program was launched back in 1982, officials have investigated nearly 200 fatal accidents.

The North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) is here to offer employees and employers with some safety tips to exercise when working in confined spaces. All of these tips should be fully executed to increase on-the-job safety.

Confined Spaces Safety Tips for NCDOL:

-Keep the noise level low so that employees can hear a warning to avoid any dangers. Areas that are too loud will hinder an employee’s ability to hear and could put them in danger.

-Keep all surfaces dry.

-Beware of falling objects.

-Develop a permit-required confined space program covering contractor operations.

-Make sure all employees have access to respirators.

-Ventilation by a blower or fan may be necessary to remove harmful gases and vapors from a confined space.

-Never trust your senses to determine if the air in a confined space is safe. Always test the air with multi-atmosphere testers.

-Create a lockout/tagout program. This type of program is required to separate the employee from the sources of hazardous energy.

-Create procedures to identify and evaluate the hazards of permit spaces before employees enter.

-Employers are required to provide proper training for all employees who have to work in permit spaces.

-Have an effective rescue plan in place. More than 50 percent of the workers who die in confined spaces are attempting to rescue other workers.

If you, a coworker or someone in your family has been injured or killed in a work accident in North Carolina or needs to file a disability claims contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. for help regarding your case. Call 1-800-887-1965 for a free initial consultation to discuss your rights today.

More Blog Entries:

Firefighters Exposed to Asbestos-Related Work Hazards in North Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, February 5, 2012

Company Fined Nearly $500,000 for Failing to Prevent Work-Related Accidents in South Carolina and Elsewhere, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, February 2, 2012

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