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Construction Site Confined Space Accidents

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Confined space accidents can be sudden and fatal – especially in the construction industry, which is full of confined space hazards like trenches, storage tanks, and large machinery. Getting trapped in a confined space can lead to accidents such as inhalation of toxic fumes or being struck by falling equipment. These incidents can result in lung damage, brain damage, or even death.

Some construction occupations are at a heightened risk for a confined space accidents, such as general laborers, first-line supervisors, plumbers, pipefitters, steamfitters, cleaners, truck drivers, pipelayers, and maintenance and repair workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New York’s trusted workers’ compensation law firm for over 90 years

In New York City, most injured employees have a right to workers’ compensation for medical care and lost wages due to their on-the-job injuries or illnesses. Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP confined space accident lawyers are relentless in the pursuit of answers, justice, and compensation for our clients. We take pride in fighting for hard-working injured people to get back on their feet after a bad work accident or illness.

If you were injured or a loved one died in an NYC working in a confined space accident, you probably have a lot of questions. Get answers, contact Pasternack, Tilker, Ziegler, Walsh, Stanton & Romano LLP for a free case consultation. We can answer your legal questions about the work accident, estimate the value of your claim, and help weigh your options.

What are the characteristics of a confined space?

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a confined space as an enclosed or partially enclosed area that is not designed for continuous occupancy. It has limited entry and exit points but provides enough room for workers to go in and perform certain jobs.

Examples of confined spaces at construction worksites include:

  • Scaffolding, catwalks, and utility poles.
  • Crawl spaces.
  • Vats, septic tanks, water tanks, oil storage tanks, storage bins, trash bins.
  • Trenches, tunnels, channels, ditches, excavations.
  • Wells, cisterns, pools, storm drains, and sewers.
  • Heavy machinery like sand hoppers.

Wherever your accident happened, our law firm will conduct a thorough investigation and collect critical evidence to support your claim. We put the highest value on your health and future for maximum workers’ compensation benefits.

The four types of confined space hazards

In the construction industry, there are four general types of confined space hazards:

  • Configuration hazards – This means the design (configuration) of the workspace will naturally result in a confined space. For example, if the workspace has low ceilings, small openings or other tight spaces can be potentially hazardous.
  • Biological hazards – These are natural hazards commonly found in confined spaces, such as rodent droppings, toxic mold, raw sewage, insects, wild animals, stagnant water or infectious plants.
  • Physical hazards – These types of hazards include electrical power lines, strong air pressure, limited visibility, loud noise and temperature extremes.
  • Atmospheric hazards – These hazards may include reduced oxygen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, flammable materials, toxic chemicals and explosive fumes or gas.

The two most common specific hazards in confined spaces are:

  • Lack of oxygen, often due to poor ventilation
  • Excessive oxygen, which can dramatically increase the risk of a fire or explosion

Asphyxiation is the most common cause of death in confined construction spaces, either due to lack of oxygen or from exposure to toxic atmospheres, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This is why proper ventilation and safety training are necessary for any construction worker working in a confined space for a long period of time.

The importance of training in confined spaces

OSHA regulations include requiring construction workers to take the necessary safety training in order to work in confined spaces. The exact training required depends on the type of confined space.

“Only workers who have been assigned and trained to work in a permit space may do so,” OSHA states, adding, “Additionally, before workers can enter a permit space, the employer has to write a permit that specifies what safety measures must to be taken and who is allowed to go in.”

Confined space inhalation hazards at construction worksites

Inhaling toxic fumes or microparticles in confined spaces can be lethal. That’s because poorly ventilated confined spaces trap and concentrate toxins and particles to the point where it becomes dangerous to workers.

Confined space inhalation accidents can happen within a matter of seconds, minutes, or hours depending on the type of hazard. Factors include ventilation, available exits, and the quality of personal protective equipment (PPE) being correctly used.

At construction sites, common inhalation hazards include:

  • Fibers and dust – Wood, chalk, sheetrock, glass, ceramic, rockwool, ash.
  • Toxic fumes - Methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, melting asphalt and plastics, and welding byproducts.
  • Work solutions, solvents, and cleaners - Shellac, varnish, lacquer, paint, degreasers, solvents like acetone, and benzene.
  • Dangerous chemicals - Hydrogen sulfide, sulfur.
  • Mold.
  • Asbestos (which can lead to mesothelioma).
  • Smoke.
  • Sprayed materials such as insulation.

Long-term exposure to toxic fumes and construction fibers can also cause a worker to develop a life-threatening illness or injury over time. These workers may also be eligible for benefits.

Call a relentless workers’ compensation lawyer to get the benefits you deserve

If you were injured or a loved one died in a confined space construction accident, Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP can take on the insurance company for you. With us on your side, you can feel confident that your case is moving forward while you heal. With 90 years of serving New York City and surrounding communities, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to get results for confined space accident victims.

You should know that you can afford representation from one of our high-quality lawyers. Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP handles workers’ comp and injury lawsuits on contingency. That means there is no down payment, upfront costs, or out-of-pocket expense for our services. Our fee is an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement or verdict. If we don’t get you a favorable outcome, you don’t pay us.

A member of our team is available to hear from you now. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation today.