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Farmer drowned while removing stop logs from water level control structure.

NIOSH 2009 Oct; :1-10
In June 2008, a 76-year-old male farmer, who was a member of a volunteer cooperative drowned, as he was removing wood stop logs from the drain's water level control structure to relieve a high upstream water level. The structure had three sections six feet wide. Each section had at its base, one 12-inch wide wooden stop log that was turned on its edge. Stacked on top of the 12-inch stop log were four 8-inch wide stop logs, also turned on their edge. The five stop logs were held in place by a channel in the concrete piers. At the time of the incident, each section had its full complement of stop logs. A large amount of precipitation and the area's soil composition caused water to run off to the field's drainage ditches and into the county drain resulting in high upstream water levels in the drain and ditches and field flooding. The decedent arrived at the water level control structure, parked his vehicle, removed his work boots, and donned chest waders. He stood downstream in the southernmost section and used a crowbar to loosen the top stop log. He lifted the top stop log up and out of the channel. After removing the stop log from the channel, he either slipped and lost his balance or was knocked over by the force of the water rushing over the remaining stop logs. A nearby landowner saw the decedent's unattended vehicle, and when he couldn't find him, called for emergency response. The police arrived, and called for the dive team. The decedent, who was not wearing a life jacket, was found 40 feet downstream, caught by low hanging tree branches. Recommendations: 1.) The drain commissioner should ensure that a standard operating procedure to add/remove stop logs for each of the county's water control structures is developed and implemented. This procedure should prohibit individuals from entering the drain to remove the stop logs. 2.) The drain commissioner, when a possibility of drowning exists, should require volunteers to wear an approved life jacket/buoyant work vest and have a ring buoy available. 3.) The drain commissioner should have an annual safety meeting in early Spring with the volunteer cooperative members to review safety and operation procedures. 4.) The drain commissioner should review all water level control structures walkway handrails to ensure compliance with MIOSHA General Industry Safety Standard, Part 2 - Floor and Wall Openings, Stairways, and Skylights.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Divers; Farmers; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-practices; Author Keywords: Drowning; Drainage ditch; Water level control structure; Drain commissioner; Agriculture
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-08MI135; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University