Employees working in confined work areas are at an increased risk of acute or chronic toxic exposure when working with certain occupational chemicals. Ventilation hazards are common in certain industries, including mining, auto repair shops, painting, remodeling, construction, or shipyards.
Employers have a duty to ensure workers are protected from ventilation hazards by monitoring work spaces, warning workers of potentially dangerous chemicals and providing protective work equipment.
Confined spaces and poorly ventilated areas can be deadly or may regularly result in serious injury, or severe illness. Repeated exposure to paint fumes, pesticides, solvents, asbestos, mold, dust or other cleaning agents over long periods can have very harmful effects on the body.
Inhalation of toxins without proper protective equipment can lead to kidney, brain and liver damage. With any ventilation hazards, Maintenance Crews with the silent dangers of toxic chemicals in confined spaces.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Catastrophic Injury lawyer and employer negligence attorney. Mr. Lyon has represented plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of workplace injury and toxic exposure claims.
Dangers of Confined Spaces
Confined spaces are common in many workplaces. A confined space is defined by OSHA as an area with restricted entry or exit, hazardous atmospheres or risk of engulfment. Employers must ensure that workers do not enter a confined space unless the employer has a confined space entry permit and complies with safety regulations.
Even some areas that are not considered confined spaces can still present ventilation hazards because they may be poorly ventilated. Poorly ventilated workplaces and confined spaces may present different occupational risks, though both may have an issue with safe air quality.
Some of the hazards associated with ventilation hazards and confined space include toxic, hazardous substances, flammable contaminants (potentially causing fire and burn injuries), unsafe oxygen levels, and engulfment. Poorly ventilated work spaces and confined spaces may include:
A poorly ventilated place may become dangerous if there is an unsafe level of toxic contaminants, and if the ventilation is poor and cannot remove contaminants. Fork trucks can present ventilation hazards when carbon monoxide builds up and ventilation is insufficient. Petrol or diesel machines, or gas heaters in confined areas may be a work hazard. Portable generators cause dozens of deaths each year related to CO poisoning.
Toxins & Chemicals at the Workplace
The use of cleaning solvents such as Liquid Wrench or degreasing agents in small poorly ventilated rooms can lead to serious health issues. High exposure to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for long periods of time can lead to serious damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system.
Workers and employers are encouraged to follow safety regulations set forth by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Improper operation and maintenance of HVAC systems is one of the most common problems that impact workplace indoor air quality. Toxic exposure may include the following harmful chemicals:
Ventilation Hazards & Injury
Toxic inhalation injuries may include cardiac injury and kidney injury, lung cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and others cancers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies painting and other confined space occupations as carcinogenic risks.
Lung disease and respiratory diseases are long-term risks for any worker who experiences regular exposure to hazardous materials or chemicals. The Lyon Firm works to protect worker safety and when employers fail to follow OSHA safety guidelines and fail to provide basic protective equipment to employees, they may be held liable in employer negligence and personal injury lawsuits.