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Hazards associated with confined spaces

West Virginia employees whose jobs require them to work in a confined space may face a heightened risk of injury or death. OSHA defines a confined space as a space that is large enough for a person to enter, is not intended for continuous occupancy and has a limited number of ways to enter or exit. Ducts, pipelines and sewers are common examples of confined spaces that workers may perform tasks in or around.

Confined spaces are inherently more dangerous because workers may have a hard time escaping hazardous conditions. They may also suffer from restricted air flow that could lead to a buildup of toxins in the air. When there is a lack of oxygen in the air, a worker could suffer from asphyxiation, and it is the most common cause of death for those working in confined spaces.

OSHA has come up with the confined-space standard that requires employers to get permits to have workers operate in such spaces. However, employers do have leeway when determining how to best keep their workers safe in such conditions. This standard comes into play when there is a hazardous atmosphere, the potential for a hazardous atmosphere to occur or whenever there is a recognized safety hazard or potential safety hazard.

Those who suffer a work injury while in a confined space may wish to file for workers' compensation benefits that can include partial wage replacement as well as the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses. It may also be possible for the families of workers who die on the job to receive a death benefit. Workers who have their claims denied or disputed may wish to consult with an attorney.

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