Permit Required Confined Spaces

Violations of permit confined spaces safety regulations led to the death of a worker, 23, on June 19, 2014, at producer and distributor of food products. The worker was found unresponsive in a tanker truck at the facility. He was conducting sampling of the tank, which contained egg products and nitrogen. OSHA has cited the company for five serious safety violations, including exposing employees to nitrogen hazards.  OSHA's inspection found that the facility failed to prevent employees from entering permit-required confined spaces. Related to this failure, the company did not ensure that emergency services were proficient in confined space rescues and that appropriate equipment for a confined space rescue could be used to perform one quickly.  The company did not:

OSHA found that an environmental remediation company did not have equipment or trained personnel to rescue a 27-year-old worker promptly who collapsed and later died while cleaning a rail car. OSHA has cited seven willful and 14 serious safety violations, many involving permit-required confined space safety regulations. The company has also been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.  OSHA determined that the employee entered a 30,000-gallon rail car on May 20, 2014, and suffered from cardiac arrhythmia. He was unable to exit the rail car on his own. The man had been on the job for about 14 months at the time of the incident.  Contractor failed to monitor permit-required confined spaces; allowed entry when atmospheric conditions were unacceptable; and did not provide personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators. The company also failed to remove defective respirators from use. In addition, the company failed to designate trained rescue employees and use a retrieval system attached to the worker to aid in rescue. Additionally, the contractor failed to comply with respiratory protection requirements, maintain rescue equipment, ensure ventilation equipment was used properly, and provide fall protection for workers at the top of the rail car, which exposed them to falls of 15 feet or more. A total of 14 serious citations were issued for these violations.  OSHA has proposed fines totaling $188,400.  Here is a breakdown of the citations:

On July 25, 2012, OSHA issued to Respondent a three item serious citation and a one item willful citation and notification of penalty (citation). The serious citation items allege that, on or about February 6, 2012:

  • Respondent did not maintain a standard railing adjacent to batch plant sand bins that are permit-required confined spaces, in violation of standard 1910.23(c)(3); 
  • Respondent did not secure batch plant sand bins #1 and #2 from employee entry, in violation of standard 1910.146(d)(1); and
  • Respondent did not prepare entry permits for permit-required confined spaces in the batch plant, known as sand bins #1 and #2, in violation of standard 1910.146(e)(1).

The willful / serious citation item alleges that, on that date, Respondent did not implement procedures for immediately summoning emergency services upon discovery of an employee engulfed in sand within a permit-required confined space and Respondent did not implement procedures for preventing unauthorized co-workers from entering a permit-required confined space and attempting a rescue of an employee engulfed in sand, in violation of standard 1910.146(d)(9). The total penalty proposed is $70,000.00.

compactor1 berries lrgThis is a hot debate, sadly enough!  Here we are going on nearly 20 years of having OSHA’s Permit Required Confined Space standard (1910.146) in place and we are still debating what is and what is not a CS and PRCS.  Granted there will always be questionable spaces - that is what safety professionals are for!  But damn it, these roll off trash compactor containers are WITHOUT A DOUBT a PRCS.  And just because “our employees never enter it/them” is not an excuse to not classify it properly and label it properly to PREVENT unauthorized entry.  Let’s examine the characteristics of these containers and what makes them a PRCS…

A point we try to stress in our PRCS Entry and Rescue courses is that it is almost always easier to get into a small opening than it is to exit that same opening.  There are many variables at play during an entry that make this a fact and this video does an excellent job showing how egress can be a challenge.  This video demonstrates why almost all Confined Space Standards/Codes specifically address EGRESS from the space, as well as why an entry over 5' in the vertical direction REQUIRES a mechanical advantage.  This video was shot in Afghanistan, but the same laws of physics apply world-wide - although we have been told some facilities can defy the laws of physics!!!!

PLEASE NOTE:  Using a powered device such as a crane, as shown in this video, can be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and is NOT advised without the proper safety controls and training in place.

MANY THANKS to "Chuck" for pointing me to this video and his service to this great nation!

A 51-year-old worker was fatally injured when he became engulfed in flowing grain in a railcar load-out elevator. On March 15, 2014, the incident occurred when the worker attempted to remove a jam from a chute while the auger operated. OSHA has cited the company for one willful, two repeat and eight serious safety violations, many involving OSHA's grain handling, permit-required confined space and fall protection safety regulations. OSHA's inspection found that management allowed employees inside the grain bin while the auger and conveyor systems operated, despite a comprehensive safety and health program in place that outlined how to keep workers safe in the grain bin. This resulted in a willful violation issued. The company failed to complete a confined space entry permit before allowing workers to enter grain bins and to provide fall protection for workers exposed to falls of up to 60 feet while performing work activities around an unguarded floor opening in the main elevator shaft. Here is a breakdown of the citations:

At approximately 0645 (UTC+1) on 26 May 2014, three crew members on board a cargo ship were found unconscious in the main cargo hold forward access compartment, which was sited in the vessel’s forecastle. The crew members were recovered from the compartment but, despite intensive resuscitation efforts by their rescuers, they did not survive.

In 2012, Oregon OSHA adopted OAR 437-002-0146. That rule was initiated to address confined space hazards for the construction industry, as the previous rule, OAR 437-002-1910.146, did not apply to the construction industry. The goal in this process was to draft a rule that was significantly less confusing than the current rule, address shortcomings with the current rule, and organize the standard so employers can better understand what is expected of them. However, in September of 2013, Oregon OSHA received questions about certain provisions of the rule and their impacts on the industry, and we concluded there was enough substance to those concerns to justify reconvening a stakeholder group to address those concerns. This rulemaking amends OAR 437-002-0146, Confined Spaces. These amendments clarify employer obligations and eliminate confusing requirements.

On September 6, 2010, a 51-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (victim) died after being overcome by low oxygen and sewer gases while climbing down into a sewer manhole in an attempt to rescue a village utility worker. The utility worker had entered the manhole to investigate a reported sewer problem and was overcome by low oxygen and sewer gases (see diagram 1). The incident occurred behind the fire station in an underground sewer line that ran under the fire station. The local utility company contacted the chief of the village's volunteer fire department and requested that a piece of fire apparatus be moved out of the station so they would not block it in while accessing a manhole. The fire chief responded to the station to move fire apparatus so it would not be blocked by the utility trucks. The victim and another fire fighter also arrived at the station to assist. A utility worker entered the manhole behind the station to clear a sewer backup and was overcome by a lack of oxygen and sewer gases and then fell unconscious inside the manhole. The victim then entered the manhole without any personal protective equipment to help the utility worker and was also overcome by the low oxygen level and sewer gases. The victim and the utility worker were later removed from the sewer manhole by fire department personnel and transported to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead. The medical examiner reported the cause of death as asphyxia due to low oxygen and exposure to sewer gases.

Note: The death of the utility worker was investigated by the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Occupational Health, Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. A link to the New York FACE report will be included in this report when completed. The New York State Department of Labor, Division of Safety and Health also conducted an investigation of this incident.

CLICK HERE for the full FACE report

This incident is a PERFECT example of how work within the space can CREATE its own HAZARDOUS ATMOSPHERE!  This was a tank that was siting in a lay-down yard and had been painted on the inside.  Not sure if it was a "new" tank or one that was being reworked, but none the less it was NOT attached to a process or any thing for that matter at the time of this accident.  Vessel was being inspected at the time of the flash fire.  CLICK HERE (pdf) for the investigation presentation.  Very Well DONE!

Cal/OSHA cited an industrial service provider following an investigation of a flash fire inside a metal tank that resulted in serious burns to an industrial painter. Cal/OSHA cited the employer for

  • knowingly using an unauthorized electric lamp while the painter was working in an explosive atmosphere,
  • for not having a permit to work in a confined space and
  • for not having the proper ventilation or protective equipment for such a hazardous space, among other violations.

Total proposed penalties are $82,090.

There have been a number of fatalities from off-gassing or oxygen depletion in storage of wood pellets and chips. Use of these fuels is increasing rapidly in some parts of the world, so we bring these papers together and make them free to access to help publicise this problem. Simply click on the titles below to read the full text free online.

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