Request for assistance in preventing occupational fatalities in confined spaces.
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-110, 1986 Jan; :1-12
The NIOSH Alert Bulletin on preventing occupational fatalities in confined spaces is presented. The Alert requests the assistance of managers, supervisors, and workers in preventing deaths that occur in confined spaces. It is noted that 60 percent of the deaths in confined spaces involve potential rescuers. A confined space is defined as a space which by design has limited openings and exits and unfavorable natural ventilation that could contain or produce dangerous air contaminants, and which is not intended for continuous employee occupancy. Eight case reports involving 16 fatalities in confined spaces are summarized. The fatalities were attributed to such factors as lack of natural ventilation, oxygen deficient or flammable or explosive atmospheres, limited entry and exit, dangerous concentrations of air contaminants, or physical barriers or limitations to movement. In each case, there was a lack of recognition and testing, evaluation, and monitoring prior to entry; nor had a well planned rescue been attempted. There are no specific OSHA rules that apply to all confined spaces. Recommendations include training workers to recognize confined spaces, testing confined spaces before entry, and establishing rescue procedures before entry.
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