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What are the injury risks of working in confined spaces?

New York Workers' Compensation

According to Occupational Health & Safety magazine, confined spaces aren't exactly designed for human access. Yet workers in many industries are required to access them in order to obtain equipment, make repairs, and perform routine maintenance.

Working in confined spaces comes with a slew of hazards that can result in serious or fatal injuries. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor concludes that roughly 92 workers die each year in the United States while working in confined spaces.

Who is at risk of being injured in a confined space?

Construction workers, agricultural workers, electricians, and maintenance workers are the most at risk of being injured in confined spaces.

Confined spaces may include:

  • Underground confined spaces: tanks, storage tanks, vaults, manholes, tunnels, pipelines, and trenches.
  • Above-ground confined spaces: water towers, elevators, equipment housing, and storage.

Only work spaces that meet the definition of a confined space by OSHA require permits. The criteria to be meet the definition includes:

  • Containing or having the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
  • Containing materials that could potentially engulf or entrap workers
  • Having walls that converge inward and floors that slope downward
  • Contains other hazards, such as unguarded machines and equipment, exposed wires, or heat risks

All other confined spaces don't require permits to work in, yet they can be just as dangerous for workers.

These are the leading risks associated with working in confined spaces

The most common risks of working in confined spaces include:

  • Limited entrances or exits
  • Poor air quality
  • Inadequate oxygen
  • Exposure to gases and dangerous toxins (which are more likely to build up to dangerous levels in confined spaces)
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Structural dangers
  • Risk of fires or explosions
  • Electrical hazards
  • Drowning risk in trenches, pipelines, or water tanks

Falls are also a common risk in confined spaces that allow enough room for workers to stand, according to Occupational Health & Safety magazine. There is a common myth that falls only tend to happen at open work sites. Workers are at risk of tripping over wires or debris or slipping on wet or sloped surfaces, however. Those who work in manholes are at risk of falling from heights.

Workers' comp attorneys representing injured workers across New York

You may have sustained broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, electrocution injury, burns, lacerations, or spinal injuries while working in a confined space.

If you were hurt on the job, you may be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits. This would pay for your medical expenses and lost wages while you're unable to work.

Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law can guide you through the complex process of filing a workers' compensation claim and help you get the benefits you need.

We represent clients throughout NYC and across New York State. Contact us online to get started on your claim.

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