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Preventing on-the-job injury in confined spaces

California construction workers sometimes have to be in treacherous positions, including confined spaces -- such as holes, trenches and tunnels. When it is required that workers be in these types of hazardous environments, employers and site managers should take every possible step to avoid an on-the-job injury. Requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration dictate that employers carefully evaluate the space before workers enter.

OSHA also requires that those working in a confined space are fully aware of any precautions that should be taken in order to remain safe. Additionally, workers should be trained to take necessary precautions in these hazardous spaces. Employers must be prepared with a plan to rescue workers in case of an accident or entrapment. 

According to OSHA, a confined space is one that is not designed for continual use or employee access. These spaces must be large enough that an employee can bodily enter it, even if means for entrance and exit are limited. In certain cases, confined spaces require a special permit before operations can commence within the potentially hazardous area. 

Employees have rights that must be protected, including the right to a work environment that is free from unnecessary hazards. In the construction industry, it is not unusual for workers to be faced with certain dangers, but California employers bear the burden of ensuring that training and safety take a top priority. When an on-the-job injury does occur while working in a confined space, workers may seek financial recovery through workers' compensation benefits.

Source:, "Protecting Construction Workers in Confined Spaces: Small Entity Compliance Guide", Accessed on Jan. 5, 2016

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