Many jobs in Illinois involve work in confined spaces. These spaces can expose workers to the danger of cave-ins, poisoning, asphyxiation, entrapment, heat stress and other harmful events. Every worker compensation attorney is acquainted with employees who are severely disabled after injury in a confined space.
What is a confined space?
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a permit-required confined space as a small space with one or more of the following hazardous characteristics:
- Walls converging inward or floors sloping downward
- Materials that could cover or engulf a worker
- Hazardous atmospheric gases
- Live wires
- Excessive heat or cold
- Unprotected machinery
If even one of these characteristics is present, OSHA regulations require correct permission and proper safety measures before employees are allowed to enter the confined space.
High risks of injury and death
Working in permit-required confined spaces can greatly increase the risk of severe injury. According to OSHA statistics, 431 major incidents took place in confined spaces between 1992 and 2005, with a total of 530 deaths. For every fatality, there are approximately two serious non-fatal injury cases that require emergency treatment and hospitalization.
Common injuries in enclosed spaces
A worker compensation attorney knows that small spaces can trigger a workplace accident even among experienced professionals. Enclosed space accidents can cause a wide range of physical injuries, including smoke inhalation, blunt force trauma, asphyxiation, electrocution and crushing. Many workers who are trapped in small spaces may also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after the rescue is completed.
Workers’ compensation after enclosed space injuries
If employees are disabled as a direct result of work-related injury in hazardous environments such as tanks, manholes, storage bins, silos, pipelines and other confined areas, they are eligible for full benefits under Illinois workers’ compensation law. Many injury cases in enclosed spaces can be traced to negligence on the part of employers. If disabled workers are unable to return to the workplace, they must be offered partial or total disability payments during the entire duration of their recovery. Some people are unable to return to work in confined spaces after a severe injury. In such cases, Illinois workers’ compensation is required to pay for their complete vocational retraining and rehabilitation. A worker compensation attorney is familiar with many cases of lost careers and changed lives after accidents in permit-required confined spaces.
If you have been injured in a confined space, you have options for recovery and compensation. You may find it a good idea to consider speaking with a personal injury attorney.