The recent prosecution of Marshall Lethlean Industry (MLI) is a reminder to all employers about the danger of presuming that a space not originally classified as a confined space, can gain those hazardous attributes through poor work practices. Furthermore, the use of any dangerous good in areas of poor ventilation can result in catastrophic circumstances.
As a trainer for confined space entry, this tragedy, is a reminder that the potential for any contaminant to affect a work area must be rigorously assessed and where there is any degree of uncertainty, acted upon.
The application of the current definition of confined space does not encompass the MLI case as the bar is set too high for the likelihood that a space can have, in this case, a low oxygen level. MLI did not know of the leaking MIG unit and the threshold of "likely" could not have been anticipated.
A safety manager once said in a confined space training session, “if you are debating whether a space is a confined space, treat it as such”.
If MLI had done so, they would have tested the tank's atmosphere, and prevented the death of the young man.