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Expert Witness Explains Confined Space Hazards

Confined spaces are dangerous to many individuals for numerous reasons, but when the individual is trapped and unable to exit the location, he or she may become injured or suffer oxygen deprivation and other complications. Industrial and construction areas are frequently full of hazards that could confine a person in a small space if he or she is not paying attention to his or her surroundings.

After items or part of the building structure fall on top of or around the person, he or she is then trapped and unable to vacate the plot without assistance. Unfortunately, help does not always come in time for the victim of these circumstances.

Because the complications that arise through confined spaces are often unknown to the average person, it is generally important to hire an expert witness with a background in psychology and medical care so that the judge or panel of jury members may be able to comprehend why being stuck in a tight spot for several minutes to hours is both dangerous and harmful to the emotional and mental wellbeing of a person. It is possible that the after effects of these situations carry on for months if not years when untreated. Compensation is needed for therapy and medical assistance.

OSHA Programs and Confined Space Standards

New programs have been issued by both federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA for construction standards involving confined spaces. Anyone that has been considered for the role of rescuer must pass a skills and applicable assessment. Any of these persons that has passed examination must have the proper equipment, the technical demands of the site and be able to work through the hazards and specific issues that they will face. Certain key elements may exist such as underground or unique for confined spaces. This makes a rescuer that has been deemed qualified capable for some aspects, but he or she needs to perform any duty based on the situation, use and utilize systems that have been created with the knowledge of the hazard as well as keep the victim of these circumstances calm and at peace so he or she does not cause any further harm or complications.

To become a professional rescuer or these hazardous confined spaces, the individual must have all mandatory training, resources available, the practical skills considered for these dangers and the right mindset. The technology employed for these situations is not understood by anyone outside of those trained, skills must be fresh to avoid a potential disaster and the professional should keep his or health up. Drills and training or retraining should be frequently completed to ensure that skills are not forgotten. While all responders to the circumstances may be expected to have the same training and standards, this is not possible when the aspects of a confined space are involved. Rescue operations are usually very specific based on the location, elements included and external factors.

Air Tests

There are certain air tests that must be conducted to determine if dangerous gases are in or around the confined space the victim is within. A sampling is performed so that any responders are aware of the complication before they arise at the scene. This permits them to know if the air is safe before opening doors or passages ways or if they require an air filter mask. If the person trapped is in an industrial building such as a gas plant or similar location, there are usually special entry procedures that must be followed to include an air test that may detect flammable vapors, low oxygen, hazardous substances in the air and similar concerns.

Fatal Issues and Anomalies

When responders are not well equipped for the situation, they may experience the same problems as the victim such as gas, air deprivation and dangerous vapors. Without breathing apparatus, it is possible that the person in the confined space may die while the responders are injured attempting to save the individual. When failure for testing the air before entering the location occurs, the potential rescuer could cause the issue to become worse. He or she could become unconscious, injured or die while at the scene. Some anomalous situations arise that the person is not prepared for, and it is important to test and arrive as well equipped as possible.

The expert witness is usually needed in these situations to explain how the victim was harmed, why responders were needed and any fatal or unknown variables that led to complications and problems.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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