Confined spaces pose some of the most significant hazards to workers in various industries nationwide, including Illinois. Safety authorities say a better understanding of the dangers of confined spaces and the safety regulations could help keep workers safe. They say compliance with the rules, which could be confusing, can prevent a fatal work-related accident.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a confined space is one that is large enough to accommodate a worker to do his or her job. If it has restricted, or limited exit or entry means, it qualifies as a confined space, even if it is a large area -- such as a tanker. Workers must not occupy such spaces continuously. If there is no obvious serious health or safety hazard, no permit is required for a confined space, but time spent inside the space must be limited.
A permit-required space is one that poses life-threatening risks. Potential dangers could include an atmosphere that could be hazardous or the presence of a material or substance that could engulf a worker in the confined space. An area with an inward-sloping floor or converging walls is also classified as a permit-required confined space. It is also important to recognize the need for personal protective equipment, even in nonpermit required confined spaces.
Illinois workers can insist on sufficient safety training to prepare them for the hazards of confined spaces. Victims of on-the-job accidents, or the surviving family members of deceased workers might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An experienced attorney can assist with the administrative and legal proceedings to obtain maximum benefits under applicable laws. Benefits typically include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, or coverage of a funeral and burial in the event of a fatal work-related accident.