Today I'm going to cover confined spaces at work because I think the safety ideas lend themselves to what could have saved the life of a 16-year-old boy working on a dry-docked boat. I've covered the subject more extensively for workers in the post, What is a confined space death in the workplace?
The important point is for you to use safety techniques that are commonly used in other situations to make what you're doing safer. That way no one has to lose their life. Working safely is will get the job done faster and no one has to leave the job site by ambulance. It's important that everyone lives to work another day and comes back to the job site with all their fingers and toes. I've worked my entire life and planning how to do the job safely is as important to me as is getting the job done. Be mindful of safety techniques.
Here is a quote from the OSHA rules that you should read before going on to read about this young man's death.
REMINDER: A confined space is characterized by restricted means of entry/exit, size sufficient to contain a worker, and not specifically designed for worker occupancy. A permit-required space is a confined space that has a hazard to health or life associated with it. Hazards may be the result of atmosphere or materials in the space or the result of the shape of the space.
Boating 101 News Item - A dry-docked pontoon boat was being moved from dry-docking to the water and during the process it collapsed pinning a 16-year-old boy underneath. The accident occurred on Saturday several weeks ago and he died this the Thursday following the accident. A memorial fund or scholarship fund is set up at the First State Bank in Britt, Iowa. The details of how this accident occurred are sketchy so understanding how it happened and how it could have been avoided can't be discussed. Being somewhat claustrophobic I would find it difficult to crawl into a confined space. It certainly doesn't appear that this young man was doing what killed him as a part of his work, although it could have been; I just don't see anything in either article that indicates he was. Workers involved with confined spaces will know what I'm talking about and where this blog post is going. Confined space work is regulated by OSHA and IOSH. Specifically to avoid injury or death of workers involved. KCCI has a story of similar depth.
Technically was this a "confined space" that trapped this young man? I'm not sure and without asking an OSHA investigator I wouldn't be able to say equivocally. But really who cares whether it is or isn't. They may care in court but on the jobsite the idea was to get the job done without having to put that young boy in harm's way. In other words, its worth discussing because it appears, at least to me, that his life could have been saved had someone thought before he was allowed to slide underneath the pontoon boat.
In another more recent case a man was crushed under a dry docked boat in Valdez.
And aside from this situation, workers can use a fresh reminder about working in confined spaces. So read the article about confined space safety in the workplace and stay safe. While we can't bring that boy back maybe you can save someone else's life.