Confined spaces can be death traps for workers, isolating them in a space they cannot easily escape in the presence of invisible, subtly accumulating hazards like flammable or oxygen-deficient atmospheres.
But are all spaces that are difficult to enter and exit hazardous for workers? Is it possible to make a tight space safe for workers to enter without the precautions of a permit system, constant monitoring, and special rescue gear? In one recent case, Cal/OSHA said no; the employer said yes. What did the administrative law judge (ALJ) for the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board conclude?