Whether the arena is athletic competition, military confrontation, industrial espionage, investing into the stock market, or regulatory compliance, one tenet remains undeniably paramount— "Forewarned is Forearmed!" Thus, the purpose of this paper is to alert employers conducting confined space entry operations of the more frequently cited aspects of such activities by state and federal OSHA that have led to contested cases requiring expert witness participation.
Many articles have been written on the topic of confined space entry since federal OSHA issued the final rule in early 1993. However, very few have ever focused on the ugly "back story" of this topic—what alleged violations are cited when major disaster strikes, serious injuries and/or fatalities occur, citations are issued, fines are levied, and the matter heads for the courtroom. Welcome to the world of OSHA solicitors, plaintiff's and defendant's lawyers, administrative law judges, expert witnesses, and (sometimes) criminal charges from grand jury indictments!
The purpose of this paper will be to assist employers in identifying those critical aspects of their maintenance operations which may need special emphasis in order that their OSHA compliant permit-required confined space entry program will be free from incident and possible citations. The comments and advice from the author represent precepts gleaned from his participation in over 30 expert witness cases since 1976 in the confined space area.