Our Construction Injury Lawyers Will Fight to Protect Your Rights

construction-workers-sewer-systemSewer system construction is essential to urban infrastructure development, ensuring proper sanitation and wastewater management. However, this line of work exposes construction workers to various risks and hazards, especially when they enter confined spaces such as sewer systems. If your employer fails to protect you or a family member in these challenging environments, our experienced construction injury lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer can protect your rights and fight for your fair compensation.

Confined Space Hazards in Sewer Systems

Confined spaces in sewer systems can be treacherous, and without proper precautions, they can pose significant dangers to workers. There are many hazards commonly encountered in these environments, such as the following:

  • Hazardous gases. Sewers often contain hazardous gases, such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon monoxide, which can lead to asphyxiation, explosions, or poisoning. Proper testing and monitoring of the atmosphere are essential before entry.
  • Risk of being submerged. The nature of sewer systems means that workers risk being submerged by water, sludge, or other materials. Being submerged can result in a drowning fatality, making it crucial to have proper safety measures in place.
  • Electrical hazards. Sewer systems may contain electrical equipment and wiring. If not adequately protected, workers can be exposed to electrical hazards such as shocks and electrocution.
  • Physical dangers. Limited space, uneven surfaces, and confined quarters can lead to physical injuries. Workers may trip, fall, or become trapped due to the cramped conditions.

Confined Spaces Sewer Systems and Fatalities

Tragically, confined spaces in sewer systems have been the scene of fatal incidents over the years. These accidents highlight the urgency of implementing strict safety measures and adhering to guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established guidelines employers must follow to protect their workers.

OSHA Guidelines for Confined Spaces Sewer Systems

The Confined Spaces standard was established in 2015 and takes into account construction-specific characteristics and technological advancements. It places a significant emphasis on training. Employers are required to ensure that their workers are aware of the existence, location, and dangers posed by each permit-required confined space. This knowledge is crucial to prevent accidents and ensure that workers can respond effectively in case of an emergency.

Safe Entry Requirements

To ensure safe entry into confined spaces within sewer systems, the Confined Spaces standard outlines several requirements:

  • Pre-entry planning. Employers must provide pre-entry planning that assesses the confined space, identifies potential hazards, and develops strategies to mitigate those risks. Adequate planning is essential to ensure a safe working environment.
  • Permit systems. Employers must implement a permit system that controls access to confined spaces. This system ensures that only authorized personnel enter and helps track the conditions and activities within the space.
  • Training and equipment. Employers should provide workers with the required personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper training to use it properly. Workers must know about any related hazards before they commence work in confined spaces.
  • Communication. Communication is critical in confined spaces. Employers must establish a means of communication between workers inside and outside the space, enabling swift responses to emergencies.
  • Rescue plan. It is the employer's responsibility to have a rescue plan in place in case something goes wrong in the confined space. This plan includes having trained personnel and equipment ready to respond to emergencies promptly.

When to Contact a Construction Injury Lawyer

Legal action may be necessary after a construction accident where workers are injured or fatalities occur due to a confined space incident in sewer systems construction. If you are hurt in a confined space sewer system construction accident, you may need to seek legal representation to pursue compensation and justice. 

The lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer are experienced in construction accidents and can help you navigate complex legal processes, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.
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