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Essex slurry accident highlights dangers for confined space workers

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In some industries where employees are subject to working in confined spaces, there is a high risk of accidents, many of which can be fatal.
Pipelines, silos, pits and underground storage tanks all pose a high risk to those workers having to access them to perform their duties.
If workers become trapped, they are usually starved of oxygen and eventually die from the effects of asphyxiation. Inhalation of poisonous gases when trapped in a confined space is another dangerous factor which can cause death or lasting respiratory damage. Workers can also die from drowning or immersion.
And it was the latter two that have been provisionally cited as the causes of the deaths of two employees in a slurry tank incident in Essex just at the end of last week, as was widely reported in the national news. An extensive rescue operation involving draining 120,000 litres of slurry into a field was undertaken by four crews of fire fighters, but sadly a 27 year old and a 48 year old were pronounced dead at the scene and two further workers were taken to hospital for observation. The Essex Fire and Rescue Service is working alongside the police and the Health and Safety Executive to establish what happened.
Employers’ obligations
Employers have specific obligations when it comes to the safety of staff working in confined spaces. Rescue and emergency procedures must be in place so that workers can be brought to safety, or provided with oxygen, should they get into trouble and team members should be trained in confined space rescues.
If the employer of the two workers who died in Essex is found to have neglected its health and safety obligations, and it is proved they were responsible for the deaths, there could be grounds for a claim. The families of the workers should take legal advice from a specialist fatal accident solicitor who will guide them through the process and ensure their losses are adequately compensated for.
At Stephensons, we have specialist accident compensation lawyers who offer expert representation in all types of work related accident claims, including those which, sadly, result in fatalities. For clear headed yet sympathetic guidance, call 01616 966 229. You’ll speak directly to an experienced lawyer with specific experience in the type of accident you or a loved one has suffered.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney