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Understanding accidents in confined spaces

Workplace accidents can come in a variety of forms, and Michigan residents may not give much thought to those which occur in confined spaces. These accidents have the potential to be deadly, and it is important for people who work in these environments to be aware of the risks.

A confined space may take many forms. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sewer manholes, silos, dumpsters and elevator shafts are all considered confined spaces. They are dangerous places for workers because they are not designed to contain people. While in them, someone may experience an amputation from a moving part or become submerged in water. Flammable gases can also build up in these areas. Additionally, a confined space typically has a narrow entrance which may sometimes be difficult to navigate, giving it poor ventilation.

Some accidents which occur in these environments may be preventable. Safety and Health magazine says that workers do not always have the training they need to be safe. One safety and health professional has noted that some workers do not receive any kind of formal training but instead copy the habits of their coworkers. This type of situation can allow many people to work in a confined space without understanding the proper procedures for working in that environment.

An average of 90 people die each year in a confined space, and some of these fatalities are people trying to rescue their colleagues. To keep workers safe, it is recommended that people work in teams, with one person remaining outside the confined space. This allows someone to remain in contact with the workers inside and call for rescue workers if necessary.

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