Chatsworth, CA -- In 2015, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it had issued a final rule to increase protections for construction workers in confined spaces. The new rule provides construction workers with similar protections to those of employees from other industries who have had them for over 20 years.
Tragically, three workers in Florida lost their lives last month after being exposed to deadly gases in a manhole. The construction workers were involved in a road project when one entered the manhole and was quickly overcome by the gases. Two coworkers attempted a rescue, but both also perished. None of the workers had respirators or gas sensors according to media reports. Several rescue workers responding to the scene also had to be treated for exposure, but are expected to recover. It is believed that the culprit in this incidence was exposure to high levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide.
OSHA reports that confined spaces such as these are not designed for continuous occupancy and are difficult to exit in the event of an emergency. People working in confined spaces may face life-threatening hazards that could include toxic substances, electrocutions, explosions and asphyxiation.
“Cases like this happen far too often, they can be prevented if workers are properly trained on the hazards of confined spaces, have the correct personal protective equipment and have access to gas monitoring equipment,” said Derrick A. Denis, V.P. of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “The industrial hygiene and air quality experts at CSC help companies prevent tragic incidents like these from occurring. Our staff provides occupational training on health, safety and personal protective equipment, as well as air testing for hazardous fumes and gases.”