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Confined Spaces and Their Dangers Since Roman times the danger of confined spaces has been written about In 1556 Agricola noted that stagnant air in mines caused breathing difficulties and that fires in mines caused many workers to die inside them In 1925 Alice Hamilton observed that decomposing organic material in vats tanks and manholes emitted hydrogen sulfide and noted how it had caused death by asphyxiation 4 So in 1993 OSHA published a standard for permit required confined spaces The standard was made to prevent and control hazards associated with confined space work which is the cause of many occupational injuries and fatalities each year Each year there are almost two fatalities for every confined space incident reported The most common cause of these accidents is an insufficient preparation for undetected hazards NIOSH defines a confined space as a space that by design has limited openings for entry and exit and unfavorable natural ventilation that could contain or produce dangerous air contaminants and is not intended for continuous employee occupancy 4 A permit-required confined space is a space that contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere contains material that could allow an employee to become engulfed or that is configured of inwardly converging walls or sloping floors that could trap or asphyxiate an employee 1 Confined spaces exist every where in industry They may include various types of tanks vessels boilers reactors pipelines utility manholes pits degreasers tunnels crawl spaces scrubbers air exhaust plenums and rooms or areas with restricted openings or no natural or mechanical ventilation These spaces must be entered occasionally to clean repair and maintain the space inspect and test equipment and materials and rescue injured or disabled workers ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Bibliography 4Petit Ted 1996 Worker deaths in confined spaces Professional Safety 41 22-24 1Derocher Robert 1997 Confined spaces the only constant is change Safety and Health 155 46-50
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