Knowing the atmospheric conditions of a confined space before entering can be the difference between life and death.
It’s a grim thought, but carrying out routine safety precautions such as testing the quality of the air can help prevent incidents which cause harm to workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), states that atmospheric testing of a confined space is required before entering, in order to evaluate the hazards of it and verify whether it is safe to enter.
Unfortunately workplaces have been found to flout safety regulations including the tank cleaning firm, Dedicated TCS, whose ignorance cost a man his life.
In October 2015, three male workers were cleaning the inside of a rail tanker at the Port of New Orleans, when they became trapped and started to suffer from the effects of oxygen deprivation.
One worker managed to escape and call for help, leading to firefighters, emergency medical services and harbour police attending the scene.
Emergency personnel pulled out the other two workers and gave them oxygen to help bring them back to consciousness. One of them regained consciousness but the other remained unresponsive without a pulse. All of them were taken to hospital, however the unconsciousness man later died.
OSHA found the cleaning firm failed to test the atmosphere inside the tanker before the three workers entered the tank, and to mandate that the workers attach a lifeline to their harnesses to allow for a rescue.
OSHA has now proposed $226,000 in fines against Dedicated TCS for nine safety violations that resulted in a worker death and injuries.
Two of the nine proposed violations have been classified as ‘willful’, which is the most serious category, reserved for situations in which an employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement or acted with plain indifference to employee safety. They were also given three repeat and four serious violations for exposing workers to hazardous health conditions.
OSHA has cited Dedicated TCS for the same confined space violations three times before, but they have failed to take action to prevent it happening again.
In light of this tragedy we hope companies take note that atmosphere monitoring is vital, not just to abide by rules, but also to keep employees safe and avoid the risk of a preventable fatality.
Author: Araminta Hartley, Content Writer
Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.