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Construction workers' accidents in confined spaces

Work hazards come from a variety of sources. This is often especially true for construction workers here in Pennsylvania and across the country. Whether they work well above the ground or in confined spaces, construction workers' accidents happen under numerous circumstances.

When it comes to confined spaces, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires adherence to specific rules. A confined space is defined as one that has limited entry and exit points, is only large enough for one worker to enter at a time and should not be occupied for a significant length of time. Specific training and safety regulations must be met before a worker may be allowed to work in a confined space.

Prior to any worker entering such a space, it must be inspected to ensure that it is as safe as possible. The space must have proper ventilation, ingress and egress and air quality. If the space fails in any of these areas, the problem must be rectified before a worker can enter.

Once cleared, maintaining communication with the worker in the space is paramount. Conditions can change rapidly, and those outside the space may need to make adjustments or evacuate the worker as quickly as possible. Employers should also obtain the appropriate permits before even considering putting a worker in harm's way.

When construction workers' accidents in confined spaces occur, it is imperative that the worker be rescued quickly, especially if the air quality or ventilation are compromised. Any injuries should be covered by benefits from the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system that pay for medical expenses and lost wages. Depending on the injuries suffered, additional benefits might also be available.

Source:, "Confined Spaces in Construction: Pits", May 1, 2017

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