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Municipal water system operator dies after entering oxygen-deficient valve vault in Montana, May 23, 1991.

Authors
NIOSH
Source
NIOSH 1991 Dec; :1-11
NIOSHTIC No.
00206912
Abstract
The case of a 35 year old male water system operator who died after entering a valve vault at a municipal water system facility was examined. The employer was a municipal public utilities department that had 98 employees and a written safety policy, safety program and established safe work procedures. The worker planned to open a valve on a water line serving a nearby tree farm. The valves on this line were inside a 7 foot deep, 6 foot diameter concrete valve vault below ground at the water treatment facility. The victim apparently entered the vault without testing or ventilating the atmosphere, which was later found to be oxygen deficient. He was apparently overcome and fell to the bottom of the vault. He was found lying at the bottom of the vault about 1 hour later. The cause of death was asphyxia due to oxygen displacement. The atmosphere in the vault was found to have as little as 2% oxygen when subsequently tested. Police officers investigating the incident attempted to enter the vault later the same day, but had trouble breathing. It was recommended that employers recognize that confined space atmospheres are dynamic environments and all written safe work procedures and worker training should emphasize this fact. Police, fire and rescue personnel should be trained in confined space entry and rescue.
Keywords
NIOSH-Author; Region-8; FACE-91-17; Accident-analysis; Confined-spaces; Air-quality-monitoring; Air-sampling; Work-practices; Oxygen-deficient-atmospheres
Publication Date
19911206
Document Type
Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation; Field Studies
Fiscal Year
1992
NTIS Accession No.
PB92-193739
NTIS Price
A03
Identifying No.
FACE-91-17
NIOSH Division
DSR
SIC Code
NAICS-22
Source Name
Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, Report Number FACE-91-17, 11 pages, 4 references
State
MT; WV
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