A 31 year old male dairy farm laborer entered a manure pit to clear a pipe, lost consciousness, and collapsed at the bottom. In a rescue attempt, his 33 year old brother, also a farm laborer, entered the pit, lost consciousness, and collapsed. The employer was a family owned farm operated by the father and five sons. The farm consisted of a 60 cow dairy herd with 80 acres of wheat, corn, hay and pasture. The victims had worked the farm since they were 12 years of age and were now in charge of the dairy operation. Their hazard awareness was limited mainly to farm machine manufacturer information. The two victims went to the barn to milk the cows. It is suggested that the pit contained about 3 feet of waste. The victims turned on the waste pump, but it did not remove any of the waste. Realizing the suction line was blocked, they decided to enter the pit to clear it. The initial victim put on rubber chest waders and entered with a pipe wrench, disconnected the end pipe section and manually removed the blockage. Due to a lack of oxygen the first victim lost consciousness. His brother entered to pit in a rescue attempt, and collapsed on top of the initial victim. It was recommended that farm owners become familiar with the hazards of confined spaces and adopt safe procedures specific for each type of confined space, that manure pumping equipment should be constructed of materials that are corrosion resistant, and that farm owners and workers need task specific worker safety guides through improved dissemination efforts.
Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, Report No. FACE-89-44, 7 pages