- There were 431 confined space incidents with 530 fatalities in the US due to oxygen deficient and/or toxic atmospheres from 1992-2005
- From 08/18/2009 to 12/31/2009, there were 36 worker fatalities and 6 worker hospitalizations related to confined spaces.
- In 2010, there were 63 worker fatalities and 28 hospitalizations related to confined spaces.
- From 01/01/2011 to 08/01/2011, there were 22 worker fatalities and 3 worker hospitalizations related to confined spaces.
- Repair & Maintenance and cleaning & inspection activities account for almost one-quarter of confined space-related fatalities.
- Construction and manufacturing industries experience the most fatalities.
During a study done in 2006 by a California company, it was found that approximately one-fifth of the confined space incidents result in multiple fatalities. Data also indicated that for every fatality due to oxygen-deficient and/or toxic atmosphere, 2 non-fatal injuries occur, one of which requires hospitalization. More often than not, those additional injuries are to rescuers.
Even if properly trained, workers may forget their training and/or disregard proper entry procedures and enter a confined space without PPE because they are overcome by the natural emotion to rescue a coworker. Although companies are required to and do have written procedures and programs related to confined space entry, it does not release the company from liability due to an employees disregard of those procedures, no matter if the employee is regular, temporary or contract. As far as OSHA is concerned, employers are responsible for the safety of ALL workers.
Headlines of Note
- OH&S (Occupational Health & Safety), October 14, 2009: “Confined Space-Related Death Leads to $207,800 Fine for Chemical Recyclers”
- OSHA News Release, January 12, 2010: “US Labor Department’s OSHA cites two employers following confined-space deaths at Queens, NY, recycling facility”
- www.safetynewsalert.com, May 21, 2010: “Double fatality in confined space leads to $1.32M in OSHA fines”
- www.safetynewsalert.com, June 1, 2010: “OSHA issues second million-dollar fine in a month” (Fine of $1.61M)
- www.coshnetwork.org, June 23, 2009: “OSHA Proposes $1.1 Million in Fines for Confined Space Haz’s” Safety Council of the Louisiana Capital Area, December 2003/January 2004 Newsletter: “The Top 10 OSHA Citations and
How to Avoid Them Part III: Noise, Confined Space Entry, Hazard Communication and Excavations.”