Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Confined Space Entry Mistakes Caused Tarrytown Tragedy?

OSHA has specific requirements and rules before entering confined spaces. Air testing and training are part of the requirements.

The death of two men in Tarrytown are still being investigated, however, indications are that the men died when they entered into a sewer system manhole and were overcome by the gases or the lack of air in the area.  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and  the New York State Department of Labor under Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) both regulate entries into confined spaces.  These entries require a permit system which is the equivalent of a checklist that is required to be completed by a supervisor before anyone enters the confined space.  One of the most important parts of the checklist is the requirement to test the air in the space before entry to determine the contaminants in the space.  As outsiders looking in, we could assume oxygen deficiency, methane, and hydrogen sulfide at least.  All three should have been tested before entry was made.  News reports already have told us the space was deficient of oxygen (14%), normal air has 21% oxygen.  Future Environment Designs performs confined space entry training and we train workers that at 14% workers would experience increased respiration and poor judgment.  We also train workers that the attendant should never make an entry (for rescue or any other purpose) until they are relieved by another attendant.  Our condolences go out to the family and the community of these workers.  It is a shame that this accident could have been prevented.
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