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Construction workers' accidents: Confined space management

The construction industry poses numerous safety hazards, and many of them are life-threatening. Employers must comply with many safety regulations prescribed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health specifically for the prevention of construction workers' accidents. Some of the most dangerous areas are confined spaces, and a competent person at each construction site must inspect confined spaces and determine whether they require permits to control entry into them.

Potential hazards in confined spaces include flammable or toxic chemicals or fumes and insufficient oxygen. Engulfment by liquid or flowable solid substances can cause death, and areas with floors that slope away from the exit point can prevent escape. The presence of other hazards, such as the risk of explosions, fire, radiation, biological hazards, extreme temperatures, or mechanical or electrical hazards, can also make a confined space a permit-required area.

The competent person must ensure that a written safety program is established to manage employees who have to work in confined spaces that require permits. These areas must be clearly marked, and workers must be warned about the risks involved. Adequate training, signposted warnings and enforcement is essential to prevent unauthorized workers from entering these hazardous spaces.

Victims of construction workers' accidents that involved confined spaces or other work-related hazards could end up suffering long-term consequences -- both financial and physical. However, help is available through the California workers' compensation insurance system. Experienced legal counsel can assist with the intricacies of the claims process in pursuit of benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

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