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What Does Engulfment Mean?

Engulfment occurs when someone is immersed or enclosed by a liquid or a material in granula solid form.

Engulfment is a serious workplace hazard and one that can lead to injury, asphyxiation, or fatalities due to the crushing force of the engulfing material. Engulfment by fine substances and liquids also comes with a risk of suffociation.

Safeopedia Explains Engulfment

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standard 1910.146 defines engulfment as "the surrounding or effective capture of a person by a liquid or finely divided (flowable) solid substance."

Confined spaces often pose an engulfment hazard since many of them can essentially function as containers. Large oil tanks, mine shafts, and sewers can all be sites of engulfment.

Engulfment is also a significant risk in the agricultural industy. Silos and other spaces that store grains, spices, and other foods in large quantities have the potential for engulfment.

Engulfment Hazard Controls

Depending on the specifics of the worksite, measures that employers can take to mitigate engulfment risks include:

  • Eliminating or limiting access to confined spaces
  • Ensuring continuous communication with confined space entrants
  • Having a confined space rescue team at the ready
  • Using guardrails and barriers near open containers
  • Providing fall protection PPE to any worker who must work near open containers
  • Establish a lockout/tagout system to prevent accidentally activating equipment that could release engulfing materials

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HazardsConfined Space

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