Working in confined spaces.
Confined spaces present a number of dangers, including risks of fire, risks of suffocation, and risk of collapse (particularly in trenching situations). These types of injuries become all too frequent when employers try to cut corners on safety rules.
Recently, a tragedy in Sioux City, Iowa really brought those dangers to light. Several workers in North Sioux City were working to unclog a sewer line when the men were overcome by sewer gas, resulting in the death of two of the workers. As is often the case in these types of tragedies, the early reports indicate that safety rules were being ignored, leading to the risks. OSHA and IOSH (Iowa’s equivalent of OSHA) will be investigating the confined space issues.
Most in the construction industry know the risks associated with working in confined spaces, and there are a number of regulations and safety rules designed to make these situations as safe as possible. If these rules are followed, these types of deaths don’t have to happen. And yet, they do. Instead of trying to figure out ways to cut corners, Texas construction companies would do well to take a minute and look at the Iowa situation to see what we can learn from that tragedy.
My friend Steve Lombardi, of the Lombardi Law Firm in Des Moines, is doing a good job of covering the story. If you’re interested in learning more, check out his blog. You can also check out the following:
- Did the Sioux City Sewer Pipe Workers Receive Confined Space Training?
- North Sioux City Sewer Line Worker Death Is Covered By Worker’s Comp
- OSHA Investigates N. Sioux Sewer Death
- OSHA Investigating Deaths of Iowa Men in SD Sewer
- Trench Safety