Construction Worker Dies in Confined Space on the Job at Emerson Hospital

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Jodi Sugerman-Bozan

BOSTON–The death of a 46-year-old worker on Wednesday while working at at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA is heartbreaking and shows more must be done to protect workers said the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) in a statement.

According to investigators, the yet to be identified man was working in the crawl space of the hospital’s a boiler system.

Details are still forthcoming, but this appears to be a confined space incident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines confined space as being made up of three main parts: 1) being large enough for an employee to enter and perform work; 2) has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; and 3) is not designed for continuous occupancy.

Jodi Sugerman-Bozan

According to this definition, most crawl spaces would be a confined space. Therefore, a permit-required confined space entry program who have been required for this work.  A permit-required confined space program has several requirements which include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifying and evaluating permit space hazards (e.g. atmospheric, mechanical, electrical, or other injury hazards) before allowing employee entry;
  • Establishing and implementing the means, procedures, and practices to eliminate or control hazards necessary for safe permit space entry operations, and allowing only qualified workers to enter the permit space;
  • Ensuring that at least one attendant is stationed outside the permit space for the duration of entry operations;
  • Implementing appropriate procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, and preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting rescue;
  • Reviewing established entry operations annually and revise the permit space entry program as necessary;

OSHA is investigating into if any workplace safety standards were violated.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this man,” said MassCOSH’s Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan. “Tragic events like should remind everyone that dangerous jobs are not a thing of the past; thousands of workers put themselves in dangerous situations for their employer every day and sadly, some never make it back home. No one should have to die for a paycheck and we should commit ourselves as a community to ending unsafe jobs once and for all.”