Cal/OSHA issued a recent news release announcing citations for companies that failed to protect employees from hazards pertaining to confined spaces. While none of the businesses in the release were specifically agriculture businesses, the citation provides a reminder to agriculture businesses to take action to properly train employees and account for confined space hazards.
Generally speaking, a “confined space” is defined as any space with limited points of exit that may be subject to potential physical and/or toxic hazards including, but not necessarily limited to, the accumulation of toxic/flammable contaminants or oxygen deficiency. Some examples of commonly found confined spaces in agriculture operations include storage tanks, silos, wells, ponds/lagoons/pits, and sewer/drainpipes.
To mitigate the risks associated with confined spaces, employers should take steps including:
- Identify, label, and evaluate all confined spaces
- Maintain a written confined space program that includes protocols for confined space entry and emergency response
- Provide appropriate employee training regarding confined space processes
Western Growers Insurance Services is a full-service insurance brokerage offering a suite of insurance products and tailored risk management solutions to agribusiness and related industry members. For more information or assistance, please contact Ken Cooper, Director Risk Strategy for Western Growers Insurance Services, at [email protected].