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Unsafe working environment: Worker dies in confined space

Employers in all industries in New Jersey must comply with the regulations prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers. One section of safety rules covers confined spaces, which are dangerous areas with limited space to enter and exit and could pose asphyxiation hazards due to potentially toxic fume presence or a lack of oxygen. Nobody may enter this type of unsafe working environment without a special permit, and when they do, special safety precautions must be in place.

OSHA and police detectives are investigating the death of a worker who was found in unconscious in a bulk transportation truck tank on an afternoon in late November. The fire department, police and a hazmat team responded to help with the rescue when the emergency call came in at approximately 2 p.m. The worker was extricated and rushed to a hospital, but authorities later reported that he had died.

No information was provided about the reason for the man being in the tanker, nor is it known whether the necessary safety precautions were in place before the worker entered the tank. Compliance inspectors of the safety agency will likely focus on determining whether the necessary confined space permit rules were followed. Any safety violations may lead to penalties and citations.

Any New Jersey family who has to cope with the loss of a loved one in an unsafe working environment may be entitled to seek financial relief to help them with the unanticipated end-of-life expenses. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of death benefits that may cover those costs. Further assistance in the form of survivors' benefits may be awarded to help with daily living expenses for a predetermined period after the loved one's death.

Source: nj.com, "Man found unconscious in tanker trailer dies", Taylor Tiamoyo Harris, Nov. 30, 2017

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