Confined space news briefs for August

Aug. 3, 2016

Confined space risks remain a serious concern for many industry sectors. This is a roundup of confined space reporting on several fronts, ranging from enforcement actions to training.

1. A Seattle WA company that operates a marine terminal on Harbor Island has been fined $448,200 for what the Department of Labor & Industries says was a failure to correct serious worker health hazards that it had been cited for earlier. The violations included failure to correct a “confined space” violation that was cited in 2015. The fine against Seattle Bulk Shipping Inc reportedly is one of the largest in recent years, according to KOMO television news.

2. Can an industrial vacuum cleaner eliminate confined space risks? That question was posed recently by Occupational Health & Safety magazine. Because 25% of confined space deaths occur during cleaning, NFPA 350 states, "whenever possible, workers should clean the confined space from the outside, without the need for entry."

Whether it is a confined space or a permit-only confined space, the same health and safety hazards that typically exist on the shop floor, such as ergonomic hazards, slips and falls, overexertion, explosion, and uncontrolled release of energy also exist in confined spaces. However, in confined spaces, there is a smaller margin for error.

3. Confined space rescue training was the focus throughout the month of May for members of the NAS Patuxent River (MD) Fire and Emergency Services Division, culminating with a practical exercise that simulated a confined space rescue, according to Naval Air Station Patuxent River public affairs office. The annual training, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement, serves not only as a hands-on refresher for anyone already certified in confined space rescue, but as an eye-opener for new members of the department.