People are prescribed prescription pain pills every day for a number of reasons. Maybe they’ve been injured in an on-the-job accident or they’re experiencing discomfort after a major surgery. Pain killers help alleviate discomfort from more significant conditions, but there are a number of things your doctor should be telling you before you’ve been given the green light to head off to the pharmacy. 

Knowing How Much You Should Take 

One thing that doctors are not generally clear on is the amount that should be taken or the frequency at which it should occur. Sure, there are clear directions on the side of the prescription bottle, but what if the pain worsens or the medicine doesn’t seem to be working? You should never increase your dosage based on your own opinion. Always schedule another appointment to speak with your doctor if you feel that the dosage should be changed. 

Avoiding the Mix of Prescription Pain Pills and Drugs/Alcohol 

Many doctors are also notorious for prescribing prescription pain killers without stressing the importance of mixing them with drugs or alcohol. Of course, it is never okay to combine your dosage of pain killers with other heavy duty drugs. Doing so can create dangerous and unpredictable circumstances. 

Preventing the Problem in the Future 

Prescription pain killers are useful for dulling or numbing pain from a more serious condition, but why don’t doctors often instruct patients on how to avoid these situations altogether? As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This most definitely applies to prescription pain pills as well. 

Consulting Your Doctor About Addiction 

Most importantly, your doctor should inform you about the dangers of pain pill addiction. A very popular form of dependency happens to be opiate addiction, but most addicts never plan to become addicted to their prescriptions in the first place. If you think you are suffering from an addiction to your prescription medication, you should most definitely consult your doctor about an alternative form of treatment or getting help with recovery. Addiction can and does happen all of the time; you should never treat it with an “it won’t happen to me” mentality. 

If your doctor fails to mention anything to you about the dangers of prescription pain killers or the likelihood of addiction through continued use, it is then your duty to ask questions. Educating yourself could save you from a lifetime of turmoil down the line, and it only takes just a few minutes!

Written by Jayla Barnsen, from Oregon.



We hope these words bring a smile to your face, rather than a frown!  Having worked in several vocations, I can think back to little things going on at each place that irritated me to no end. 

Sometimes these pet peeves get under our skin so much, that it can cause us to lose our cool, and possibly have an accident that otherwise could be prevented.  There’s an old saying, “The customer is always right.”  I am of the opinion this can’t be true.  It seems that customers of department stores and other retail stores can be rude to the employees.  They are busy talking on their cell phone while ignoring the clerk, who is there to help them.  That can go both ways, however, because sometimes clerks are downright rude to the customers. 

While working at an oilfield construction company, the workers would gather in the back room before time to go to work, the office would be full of smoke, and then, when they left to go to their job, they would throw their coffee cups on the floor, and even worse, the sugar in the coffee would drip down the wall!  Having a blunt talk with my supervisor, he put a stop to it. (I was a one-woman secretary in a company of about 100 employees.)  They complied for a while, which made it much more pleasant.  I often wondered if they treated their wives and homes the same way. 

I am betting that each one of you has a story to tell.  As you drive to work, do drivers who don’t use turn signals irritate you?  Don’t you know you are supposed to read their minds?  How about people that read the paper or their text mails while operating their vehicle?  What about the guy you are behind that won’t turn right on a red light, when it is permissible?

Some drivers ignore yield or stop signs, which can be bad for them and the other person.  Or, have you encountered that driver who zigzags in and out of lanes on the expressway?  Or the driver who drives 20 mph lower than the speed limit, and you are stuck behind him/her?  I especially don’t appreciate the jerks that take up two parking spaces, or a handicapped parking spot.  That extra wide parking place is there for a reason, so please don’t violate this courtesy to those who need them.  Last, but not least, in the driving/parking category, put your cart in the cart corral instead of leaving it in the middle of the parking lot.  Thank You! 

Let’s talk about some disturbing facts that may annoy you in your workplace.  First, the B.O. (body odor) factor isn’t pleasant for anyone who has to work with that person.  Second, if someone is sick and coughing/sneezing, wouldn’t it be better for them to take a sick day, rather than sharing their problem with everyone else?  At one of my workplaces we had a couple of clowns (IT people) that thought it was really clever to adjust our computers where the picture on the monitor was upside down when we turned them on in the morning.  Thanks, guys.  Do you know someone at your workplace that thinks he/she is the only one with the background for understanding an issue?  Do you have a boss that won’t introduce you to an important customer?  Nice to feel invisible, isn’t it?  How about that know-it-all across the hall that is always right and has the last word? 

It is not unusual to be irked about things that happen at work.  Some workers think they don’t have to pay attention to important things, like safety training.  They are usually the ones who get hurt or hurt someone else.  It would be hard to find a person that doesn’t have some sort of pet peeve against a coworker, unless they are perfect.  It might be a good idea, though, to go to your supervisor if a coworker is doing annoying things that take your mind off your job. 

There is always going to be some horseplay at most businesses:  those are the ones who may cause someone else to be injured.  By telling someone else about irritating habits, the solution may be simple.  Try to count to ten and think about something you are looking forward to, instead of simmering. 

One thing that always bothered me, was to be reprimanded in front of coworkers.  There’s a time and place for everything, and it is in a private area, where your supervisor explains a mistake you may have made (especially in a new job), and helps you correct it. 

Habitually tardy employees make it hard on the others.  This constant habit of showing up late, could cause a shortage of personnel, someone else having to do their work, and general resentment all around.  If that person has to drive too fast to make it to work on time, they are risking safety of themselves and others just to get their day started.  My advice:  set your alarm thirty minutes early.

Well, you know, I feel much better having placed some of my pet peeves on your shoulders!  If you have a friend or coworker that you can share your concerns, it really helps to have that person to talk it over with.  Thanks for letting me share things that have bothered me in the past, but didn’t amount to a hill of beans when it was all said and done.  You have better things to do with your time, so try not to let these little “pet peeves” get to you.  One hundred years from now, who will know anyway?


Good news for corn farmers: the Department of Agriculture is predicting a record-breaking corn crop this year.   Hopefully, this will be a good year for farmers who grow other types of grains.  OSHA continues to educate the agri-business community and workers about dangers in the grain handling industry, especially in the storage of grain.

“It could take less than 60 seconds for a worker to be completely inundated in a storage bin. More than half of all engulfments result in death by suffocation,” said Nick Walters, OSHA regional administrator for six Midwestern states. In July, a 55-year-old worker was fatally buried in a grain bin in Sidney, Ill., in addition to other incidents this year, bringing about investigations and stressing the urgency of OSHA’s grain bin safety initiative.  After 26 workers died in 2012, OSHA developed a local emphasis program across 25 states to address the recurring number of preventable injuries and deaths that occur each year.

On August 4, 2010 and again on February 1, 2011, OSHA issued warning letters to the grain handling industry, (approximately 13,000)  following a series of incidents, including the suffocation of 2 teenagers in an Illinois grain elevator.   OSHA warned the employers to not allow workers to enter grain storage facilities without proper equipment, precautions (such as turning off and locking/tagging out all equipment used so that the grain is not being emptied or moved into the bin), as well as safety training.  In response to the rising number of workers entrapped and killed in grain storage facilities, OSHA has also issued a new fact sheet, “Worker Entry Into Grain Storage Bins” in August 2010 for workers and employers, re-emphasizing the hazards of grain storage bin entry and the safe procedures that all employers must follow.

Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. According to a report issued by Purdue University in 2010, 51 workers were engulfed by grain stored in bins, and 26 died—the highest number on record.  Suffocation can occur when a worker becomes buried (engulfed) by grain as they walk on moving grain or attempt to clear grain built up on the inside of a bin. Moving grain acts like “quicksand” and can bury a worker in seconds. “Bridged” grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without help.  Other major hazards in the industry include  falls, auger entanglement,  electrocution,  combustible dust explosions, fires, suffocation, entrapment, crushing injuries and amputations from equipment for handling grain.

When workers enter storage bins, employers must (among other things):

  1. Have a permit  issued for each time a worker enters a bin or silo, certifying that the precautions listed above have been put in place.
  2. Turn off / lock out all powered equipment associated with the bin, including augers used to help move the grain, so that the grain is not being emptied or moving out or into the bin. Moving grain out of a bin while a worker is in the bin causes a suction that can pull the worker into the grain in seconds.
  3. Forbid walking down grain and similar practices where an employee walks on grain to make it flow.
  4. Provide all employees a body harness with a lifeline, or a boatswains’ chair, and ensure that it is secured prior to the employee entering the bin.
  5. An observer must be stationed outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee. Ensure the observer is equipped to provide first aid, and that his/her only task is to continuously track the employee in the bin. Have at least two people at the bin to help in case problems come up.  Use a safety harness or safety line when entering the bin.
  6. Train all workers for the specific hazardous work operations they are to perform when entering and working inside of grain bins.
  7. Test the air within a bin or silo prior to entry for the presence of combustible and toxic gases, and to determine if there is sufficient oxygen. If detected by testing, vent hazardous atmospheres to ensure that combustible and toxic gas levels are reduced to non-hazardous levels, and that sufficient oxygen levels are maintained.
  8. Never allow children to play in an area where there is flowing grain.
  9. Warning decals should be placed at all bin entrances.
  10. Install a permanent life-line, hanging from the center of the bin for a person to grab on to.  Although a life-line is attached, it does not mean it is safe to enter the bin.

To prevent dust explosions and fires, employers must (among other things):

  1. A written housekeeping program with instructions to reduce dust accumulations on ledges, floors, equipment and other exposed surfaces should be developed and implemented.
  2. Identify “priority” housekeeping areas in grain elevators. The “priority” housekeeping areas include floor areas within 35 feet of inside bucket elevators, floors of enclosed areas containing grinding equipment and floors of enclosed areas containing grain dryers located inside the facility. Dust accumulations in these priority housekeeping areas shall not exceed 1/8th inch;  this amount of accumulation is more than enough to trigger fuel occurances.
  3. Minimize ignition sources through controlling hot work (electric or gas welding, cutting, brazing or similar flame producing operations).
  4. Inside bucket elevators can undergo primary explosions. OSHA’s grain handling standard requires that belts for these bucket elevators purchased after March 30, 1988 are conductive and have a surface electrical resistance not exceeding 300 megohms. Bucket elevators must have openings to the head pulley section and boot section to allow for inspection, maintenance, and cleaning.  These bucket elevators must be equipped with a motion detection device, which will stop the elevator when the belt speed is reduced by no more than 20% of the normal operating speed.
  5. A preventative maintenance program should include regularly scheduled inspections for mechanical and safety control equipment, which may include heat producing equipment such as motors, bearings, belts etc. Preventive maintenance is critical to controlling ignition sources. The use of vibration detection methods, heat sensitive tape or other heat detection methods can help in the implementation of the program.
  6. Install wiring and electrical equipment suitable for hazardous locations.
  7. Design and properly locate dust collection systems to minimize explosion hazards. All filter collectors installed after March 1988 shall be located outside the facility or located in an area inside the facility protected by an explosion suppression system or located in an area that is separated from other areas by construction having at least a one hour fire resistance rating and which is located next to an exterior wall vented to the outside.
  8. Install an effective means of removing ferrous material from grain streams so that such material does not enter equipment (grinders, pulverizers, and hammer mills.)
  9. Be prepared to make fast decisions about grain storage problems once they are detected.
  10. Safety first.  This should be first and foremost on the minds of all who are working near grain storage bins.  Exercise caution.

When traveling down life’s country roads, one can picture the peace and tranquility of farms, animals, silos, barns, that describe peacful country living.  The next time you see a silo or grain storage facility, think about the hazards that are possibly lurking within each day. The agriculture industry feeds our country, and we must insist that owners of these businesses keep their workers safe by following OSHA regulations.

Source: Department of Labor; OSHA; Harvest Land Cooperative


Every day we go to work and assume that we will return home safely again at the end of the day.  Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

Many people are seriously injured and sometimes killed at work, doing the job they are paid to do. Sometimes this is due to accidents and sometimes it can be due to negligence or lack of care.  Here are some of the most popular types of injury in the work place over recent years.

Overexertion Injuries

Physical activity such as pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing can all take their toll. Overexertion is ranked annually as one of the most common forms of workplace injury and account for millions in benefit costs every year.

Slips and Trips

Slips and trips can happen anywhere, but in the workplace the problem is more acute. Wet and slippery floors or objects left lying around can all contribute, but it is often up to the employer to ensure that spills are promptly cleaned and no debris is present which can be dangerous.


This happens when a person accidentally collides with an object such as a wall, door, cabinet, windows, table, chair etc, resulting in an impact injury. An employee’s diligence and the employer keeping the work environment free from hazards are key to preventing these types of injuries, which account for thousands of lost hours per year.


Falls from an elevated area such as roofs, ladders, and stairways can cause serious injury and are very common in work environments such as factories and warehouses.  They can be caused by slips and falls or due to faulty equipment.  These types of accidents can be reduced by the use of proper personal protection gear, training and employee diligence.

Vehicle Accidents

Employees who drive for a living, such as taxi and bus drivers, are always at risk of being involved in an accident due to the amount of time they spend on the road. They are still entitled to as much protection as anyone else however, as they are technically in their place of work. Also, people using equipment such as forklift trucks and cranes can also be injured or even killed if not given the correct tuition.

Machine accidents

Usually occurring in a factory environment, where heavy equipment and machinery are used, clothing, shoes, fingers and hair can easily be trapped or caught; leading to serious injuries. The appropriate personal protective equipment and training should always be provided.  Leave the jewelry at home, and if you have long hair, tie it up.

Acts of violence

As bizarre as it sounds, attacks and other arguments can lead to serious physical injuries. Workplace violence, employee training and employee diligence can help keep these incidents at bay. As well as employee-on-employee violence, customer violence towards staff often contributes towards workplace injuries, a matter which many companies are taking more and more seriously.

Falling objects

Head injuries are often caused by falling objects, whether it’s from shelving, scaffolding or ladders. Employee diligence and employer focus are key to preventing these types of injuries from happening regularly. PPE such as hard hats can be instrumental in keeping incidents like this to a minimum.

Hearing loss

Constant exposure to loud noise can result in significantly reduced hearing. The effect can be subtle and gradual. Basic safety measures such as ear protection and ambient noise barriers can eliminate this injury from any workplace.


Burns are often caused by chemicals used in industrial settings such as labs or factories. They can also be inflicted by equipment that has become overheated; welding torches, irons and even a kitchen kettle. Clearly visible warning signs can go a long way to prevent such injuries occurring.

Matthew Crist is a journalist and blogger who takes accidents in the workplace very seriously. He has written this blog in conjunction with Minnesota personal injury lawyers – TSR Injury Law.


It’s almost the end of summer, and people are itching to get out there for their last chance at summer freedom. What better way to enjoy your hot summer days by packing up the car, and going on that road trip?

The average age of the car on the road is about 11 years old—and that’s pretty old for a car. By taking the necessary steps and precautions before hitting the road, you’ll be all set for that last summer adventure!

Before taking off, it’s always good to check in on that car insurance. Trust worthy companies like Charlotte Insurance Agency can really help you out on your planning, and can let you know of their policies when going out on the open road. Never hurts to be better safe than sorry, and to know exactly what your plan holds.

Here are some quick safety tips to look over before getting everyone in that car:

Be Rested

This should go without saying. There is nothing worse than wanting to sleep when you can’t—especially if you’re behind the wheel. Every year there is an average number of 40,000 people injured or hurt after falling asleep at the wheel. Don’t be in this statistic! Get your 7-8 hours of sleep the night before. If you ever feel tired, pull over and take a rest, or switch out with someone.

Grab the Safety Net  

It doesn’t hurt to pack the essentials needed in case of the possible worst happening. Pack extra bottles of water, blankets, flashlights and batteries, jumper cables, and tools needed to change a tire. Bring a phone charger so you’ll always have your phone ready to go.

Check Your Ride

Of course, you’re going to need to check all components of your car before getting to the road. Check the oil, fill with gas, and check the tires. Take a look at your windshield wipers, and your headlights. If it’s time to upgrade, better do it now.

Storing Your Belongings

When packing up your car, make sure to stow the heavy items at the bottom of the pile. Don’t let unexpected suitcases fly through the car at a sudden stop.

Plan Ahead

Have a set route of what you’re planning on taking before hitting the road. Having a clear vision of where you’ll be going will have you less anxious, and less prone to getting into any accidents.

Take Rest Stops

It’s okay to pass up on a couple of them—but it’s good for you to get out and stretch; especially if you’re driving for a longer amount of time. Make sure to pick rest stops with plenty of light and lots of traffic if you’re going to be stopping at night.

Enjoy the Ride

After checking all of these items off of your list, take a breather, and enjoy the open road in front of you! Be alert, and be happy. Enjoy your vacation!

Written by: Austin Crowley 

Thanks so much, Austin.  There will be many travelers on the road for upcoming Labor Day weekend in the U.S.  We’d like to add one thing to your list: be sure your family or friends know your route and when you are expected home.  pb


There are many questions both parents and future college students need to ask before choosing and moving to the right college.  Our colleges and universities furnish  information regarding student safety, so find out who to ask.  We have a few tips that will be helpful in your quest to understand how to ensure your safety. 

It is now possible to research campus crime statistics online.  Parents and students can access the Internet, to review campus crime stats for every college and university.  By contacting the particular college campus police, you can find out how to review their annual security report.  While we are talking about online safety, it’s a known fact that personal information should be kept at a minimum on social networks.  Announcing that you will be away from your dorm or apartment may serve as an invitation to intruders.  Sharing Too Much Information (TMI) is a bad idea. 

Colleges have counselors and healthcare providers that students can go to with questions regarding their health.  They may know someone that has an eating disorder, or is drinking too much, and experienced personnel can give them some direction on how to help that person.  By meeting with campus leaders, students can pursue the availability of healthy student activities, as well as safe places to meet with friends. 

Most schools have campus police.  They are not there to harass, but to assist students at any time.  If you feel uneasy about walking to your dorm, don’t be embarrassed to ask one of them to go with you, especially if it is late at night. It’s better to be safe than sorry.  The “buddy system” is a good way to stay safe.  Ask if  the school has volunteers that can accompany you if you feel unsure about where you are going.  Being with a group is the best solution.   Campus police offer safety awareness training and support services for students, faculty, and staff.  Some even give free whistles, a good deterrent to get rid of an attacker.  

It is a good idea to always tell a friend or roommate where you are going and when you plan to be home.  Keep your cell phone safe, and call your friend if you are running late.  You are young adults and it’s your time to establish some independence.  But you must use good judgment in doing so.  There will be off-campus parties that furnish lots of alcohol, but don’t drink too much and let your guard down.  Never leave with a stranger. By all means, don’t text and drive, or drink and drive! 

Search out where your classes will be, and become familiar with the places where you see large groups of students.  There’s always more safety in numbers!  Choose your friends wisely.  If you wander into a deserted area, chances are you are in the wrong place. If you can stay on campus at night, you will be safer.  To call for help on campus, many schools have emergency phones or emergency lights to ensure students’ safety on campus.  Know where these are located on your most often-traveled paths.  Watch for the lights along your route so you know the location of the nearest one in case you need it.  

One last thing, find out what the school’s plan is in case of an emergency on campus.  Find out how they notify all students if there is a threatening situation.  Disabled persons should be informed on how they can access safe places quickly in times of emergencies. 

Have a great and very safe school year! 



It’s really not their nature to be so sneaky, because snakes are usually as afraid of us as we are of them.  They like to hide in tall grassy areas and cool places.  If they are residing in outdoor workers’ terrain, it’s wise to know what they look like in order to identify the ones that are venomous.  Rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouth/water mocassins, and coral snakes are common venomous reptiles.  

While playing on the high school golf team, our daughter was bitten twice by a rattlesnake, approximately 4 ½ feet long.  She was in the hospital for a week, with the possibility of surgery to relieve the swelling around the muscles.  Thankfully, surgery was not required, but physical therapy was, in order to straighten out her foot.   If you know anyone who has had this experience, it is certainly not a pleasant one. 

The American Association of Poison Control Centers receives reports of about 5,000 snakebites per year.  Some persons can have an allergic reaction to a bite from a non-venomous snake.  Outdoor workers should be extremely cautious while working in grassy areas, or in desert terrains, where rattlesnakes dwell.  Copperheads live in certain areas in our location, and they may hide in a bucket, under a step, or just about anywhere they choose, their color blending in with rocks. 

The symptoms of venomous bites vary by each individual, and may not show up at first.  Because the types of venom from various snakes are different, listed below are signs to watch for:

  • Severe localized pain;
  • Fainting;
  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred vision;
  • Fang marks in the skin and extreme swelling at the site of the bite;
  • Discoloration, redness and bruising;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Breathing difficulties 

There should be a quick response for medical treatment; treat all snakebites as venomous, just to be on the safe side.  Get to an emergency room as soon as possible.  Antivenin, also called antivenom, is an antitoxin specific to the venom of a particular animal or insect.  Care should be given to test for an allergy to the antivenom before administering the drug. 

While waiting for medical assistance, wash the bite with soap and water.  Keep the bitten area lower than the heart.  Do not use a tourniquet.  Remove all watches, rings, and constrictive clothing, because the area is going to swell.  Try to keep the patient calm. 

When working outdoors, and especially in tall grass, wear thick leather boots and carry some sort of stick.  Whether you are an outdoor worker, or hiker, it is wise to keep a first aid kit with supplies handy.  Having communication with your supervisor or someone could possibly save your life, so keep your cell phone charged.  If you are working alone, or hunting or hiking, it is imperative that you have some sort of communication device with you at all times.


When you think of the riskiest jobs in the world, IT is probably not a field that comes to mind at all. However, these individuals work in front of computer screens all day, and this alone can pose a risk. What are some of the health issues associated with this type of job though? Read on – the answers to this question may surprise you.

Stationary Effects
Let’s immediately get into one of the biggest problems that can result from working on a computer all day long. IT is, generally, not a very active job. As a result, problems from carpal tunnel to dangerous blood clots can potentially form at anytime in your life. Remember, blood clots have the potential to kill you, so you need to be very alert to anything that seems out of the ordinary for this kind of work. You must remember to walk around at some point during the day, if not a few times and stretch out your fingers, hands and arms at least twice most days.

Eyes and Head
Not only are you working at the computer all day, you’re also perpetually staring at a screen. Doing so can cause your eyes to be strained. Even if you never needed to wear glasses or contacts in the past, you could find yourself with a prescription rather soon. Looking at the screen for extended periods of time can also give you a headache. Try to drink a lot of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and happy.

Depending upon the specific type of work you do, you may also find that you are developing arthritis earlier than all of your peers. This problem is more common for people who are typing throughout the day. Whether you are typing up gaming programs or new pieces of software for the computers at work, you run the risk of really straining your hands. Just think of how cramped up your fingers get when you have been typing for a long amount of time.

Back and Neck
You should definitely be looking into some ergonomic pieces of furniture for your office to prevent  back and neck pain (or other problems). You may literally be hunched over all day, and this is not good for your back. Once again, being in the same position for a long period of time is not good. If you are unable to secure ergonomic chairs or desks,  then it’s wise to practice something like yoga, which can stretch out and open up your shoulders, chest and torso. This can do wonders for someone who sits all day at a desk, hunched over a screen.

How to Help

Preventing these types of problems, especially the more serious ones, is crucial for your well-being. However, you really need to discuss specific plans with your doctor to ensure you are getting advice from a professional in the field. Of course, getting away from the computer, moving your body and purchasing ergonomic furniture will help with this endeavor. Try to work out at least three times a week, for at least thirty minutes, and take frequent breaks throughout the work day.

Or, you may very well find yourself passionate about the topic of occupational health and want to help others. If so, you may want to peruse for more information about related healthcare fields where you really can make a difference.

You may have never realized all the health risks associated with being an IT professional before. Just as with any job, there are definitely some negative components, and you need to speak with your doctor before anything serious may develop.

Joseph Rodriguez writes about health, especially in terms of occupational health. His recent work chronicles his career as a healthcare administrator at a community health clinic on the west coast.


The thought of working in a small, enclosed space makes me gasp for air!  Certain people feel smothered in situations when their work involves being placed in a closed or partially closed space.  Confined spaces should be made safe for the worker by taking the proper precautions to ensure that it is secure.  Those with claustrophobia can’t help this feeling, and should seek other jobs. 

There are many regulations that deal with confined space entry.  A Confined Space Hazard Assessment and Control Program must be conducted prior to the beginning of work.  Confined spaces can be more hazardous than other workspaces for several reasons.  Workers are killed and injured each year while working in confined spaces, and an estimated sixty per cent of the fatalities have been among rescue workers.  

Let’s review some of the places that people must work that are considered confined spaces:

  • Open ditches; (possibility of collapse);
  • Silos
  • Manholes
  • Wells
  • Tunnels
  • Cold storage units
  • Tanks
  • Culverts
  • Vaults
  • Rail tank cars
  • Caves
  • Underground mining
  • Sewers
  • Pipes
  • Boilers

Reasons for these  being considered confined spaces are that they have a restricted entrance or exit by way of location, size or means.  Also, they are not originally designed for human occupancy.  Places such as this can indicate a risk for the health and safety of anyone who enters, due to the materials and substances in it (bad air), and the way it is designed.  Other hazards include fire hazards, noise, temperature extremes, uncontrolled energy, barrier failure and visibility.  All potentially hazardous energy sources: electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, chemical must be de-energized and locked out prior to entry to the confined space, preventing accidentally turning on power sources. Ventilation is of the utmost importance while working in these conditions.  Natural ventilation is not reliable and insufficient to maintain the air quality.  It is usually necessary to maintain air quality through mechanical ventilation (fans, blowers).  While workers are inside confined spaces, there should be someone standing close by that is prepared to get them out, in case of an emergency.  This plan of action should be in place prior to entering the space, and communication between the inside and outside should be constant.  

Confined space hazards are mainly controlled through traditional methods, such as engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment.  Special precautions not usually required in a regular worksite may need to be taken.  Mechanical ventilation is the engineering control regularly used.  Entry Permit system is a type of administrative control, and personal protective equipment (respirators, ear plugs, hardhats, and gloves) is commonly used in confined spaces as well. 

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure their workers are safe while working under these conditions.  If the worker feels proper precautions were not taken, they should not enter until it is made safe by additional means.


Source: CCOHS (Canada)