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Fire in confined space injures worker in California

On Dec. 17, 2013, a 37-year-old worker was severely burned while working for a California company in a confined space, according to Cal/OSHA. A confined space is one that is defined as big enough for a worker to get in, but possessing limited exit and entry openings as well as the potential for danger from area and atmosphere.

On the date of the accident, the worker was inside a big steel tank and was spraying the interior with a flammable coating. A portable halogen light that he was using ignited a flash fire that caused serious burns. The worker was in the hospital burn unit for three days recovering after he was rescued from the tank.

The company, which is an industrial service provider, has now been cited by Cal/OSHA for no permit for working in a confined space, lack of personal protective equipment and proper ventilation for such a hazardous space, consciously allowing the use of an unauthorized electric light by a worker when he was painting in an explosive atmosphere, and other violations. There were a total of twelve other violations, which included not reporting the incident within eight hours, and proposed penalties totaling $82,090.

California had seven fatalities in confined spaces in 2011, as well as two injuries and one fatality due to rescue attempts. In 2012, Cal/OSHA started a confined space emphasis program to raise awareness and aid employers in adhering to proper safeguards. Injured workers similar to the one in this story may be able to get the necessary financial help to pay medical expenses and other benefits via a workers' compensation claim. An attorney with experience in workers' compensation law can help determine whether a client is eligible for such benefits.

Source: Safety.BLR.com, "California company cited following confined space fire", July 08, 2014

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