No fewer than 60 fatal and non-fatal cases were documented in 2016. Of these, 30 (50%) were fatal and 29 (48%) of those cases were directly related to grain entrapments. In addition to the cases documented in 2016, cases that occurred in previous years continue to be added to the database due to ongoing discovery efforts. The total number of cases documented between 1962 and 2016 and entered in the PACSID is 1,935. Of those, 1,187 cases (61%) were reported as fatal and 1,432 (74%) involved grain storage and handling facilities. As noted in past summaries, the data presented do not account for all incidents involving agricultural confined spaces. There is no accumulative public record of these incidents due to the fact that there is no comprehensive or mandatory incident/injury reporting systems for most of agriculture; in addition, there has been reluctance on the part of some victims and employers to report non-fatal incidents, especially at farms, feedlots and seed processing operations. It is estimated that approximately 30% of cases go unreported. CLICK HERE for the 2016 Report
The IRSST (Canada) just published a new research report to contribute to confined space accident prevention by helping companies apply existing regulations. Researchers wanted to gain a better understanding of confined space risk management and identify issues based on the literature and field observations, and develop a confined space risk analysis and work categorization tool that meets the needs defined in the first stage of the project. This study provides support for designers, safety officers and rescuers in their respective efforts to improve the health and safe working conditions of people who must enter confined spaces. The tool can be used to design a confined space or to assess an existing one.
Develop and implement the means, procedures, and practices necessary for safe permit space entry operations, including, but not limited to, the following: ... 1910.146(d)(3)(iii) Isolating the permit space
It is not uncommon to find spaces entered with NO isolation of the space and there tends to still be some "behind scene" arguements/debates as to just how does a PRCS have to be "isolated". Here is what OSHA stated back in 1993 (emphasis added by me)
The term "isolation" means:
the process by which a permit space is removed from service AND completely protected against the release of energy and material into the space by such means as: blanking or blinding; misaligning or removing sections of lines, pipes, or ducts; a double block and bleed system; lockout or tagout of all sources of energy; or blocking or disconnecting all mechanical linkages.
The permit space MUST be ISOLATED from serious hazards. For example, if ENERGIZED PARTS OF ELECTRIC EQUIPMENT ARE EXPOSED, the circuit parts must be deenergized and locked out in accordance with section 1910.333(b). MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT posing a hazard within the space must be locked out or tagged in accordance with section 1910.147 or guarded in accordance with Subpart O of the General Industry Standards.
CHEMICAL or GAS LINES that are OPENwithin the permit space MUST be isolated by such means as BLANKING OR BLINDING, MISALIGNING OR REMOVING SECTION OF LINES, PIPES, OR DUCTS, or a DOUBLE BLOCK AND BLEED SYSTEM.
Source: OSHA PRCS Preamble
PLEASE see my other articles on PRCS Energy Isolation
Back when OSHA was writing their Permit-Required Confined Space standard (1910.146) their review of accident data indicated that most confined space deaths and injuries were caused by atmospheric hazards. And yet, still today, we see entrant, attendants, and entry supervisors; and even safety personnel, not understanding the atmospheric hazards associated with PRCSs. I hope to shed some light on these hazards and the rationale OSHA used when writing the standard with regards to the hazards found in PRCSs.
Here is a look at OSHA's Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) compliance activity in 2016 (October 2015 - September 2016). As you can see, OSHA did 192 PRCS inspections (↓) and issued 435 citations (↓) for a total of $1,285,302 in fines (↓). 2015 numbers were 206 inspections; 545 citations; and $1,435,301. This is the SETTLED amount and NOT the initial citations. Here is a quick breakdown of activity:
NAICS Code: 311 / Food Manufacturing was #1 in # of citations with 44
NAICS Code: 562 / Waste Management and Remediation Services was #1 in $'s with $253,149
NAICS Code: 311 / Food Manufacturing was #1 in # of inspections with 22