In Texas and other states, permit-required confined space entry (PRCS) injuries and fatalities still occur fairly frequently. This is based on both new and old statistics regarding workplace injuries of this nature. Each year, roughly 2 million individuals enter confined spaces to perform some type of work-related tasks.
While industrial workers’ accidents sometimes take place in areas with limited space, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that the majority of employees entering confined areas are rescue workers. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) adds that multiple fatalities involving rescuers often include victims that are considered “would be” rescuers who attempt to support rescue efforts. Also with confined space incidents, NIOSH investigations show that more than 80 percent of the times accidents occurred a supervisor was in the confined space. In fact, stats from past accidents show that nearly 30 percent of fatalities were supervisors.
Approximately 30 percent of employers also had written confined space entry procedures, although none of them had actually used those procedures. Fifteen percent of victims had confined space training, but none of the employers had a rescue plan. Additionally, 60 percent of “would be” rescuers lost their lives despite nearly all of them being authorized by supervision. However, none of the spaces were tested prior to entry, and none of the confined spaces were ventilated. Of the deaths investigated, most of the workers had entered confined spaces to perform routine maintenance, repairs, or inspections.
With a workplace injury involving a confined space, legal action may become an option if negligence was a factor. A lawyer may make efforts to show that this was the case by looking at an employer’s standard practices for working in confined areas. “Negligence” could also include oversights with training and the implementation of certain safety guidelines.