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Two teen workers asphyxiate in an agricultural silo.

NIOSH 2008 Mar; :1-75
In August of 2003, two 16-year-old farm workers died when they were asphyxiated in an oxygen-limiting silo. The two young men were in the process of helping a silo dealer/distributor service representative conduct maintenance in the silo when the incident happened. There were no witnesses to the event, as the silo representative left the site temporarily during the time of the incident, and the other farm workers, including the farm owners, were working elsewhere on the farm site. The two victims were discovered unconscious inside the 90-foot silo shortly after the silo representative had returned to the farm. The farm owner, as soon as he learned that the two young workers were unresponsive in the silo, attempted to rescue them. Emergency medical persons were called and responded to the incident. Both of the victims died at the scene. Physical rescue and emergency response was hampered by having untrained persons attempting a confined space rescue at height, and the time-lag of the rescue personnels' arrival at the site. To prevent similar occurrences, the Washington State Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (FACE) Investigative team concluded that employers working on farms and/or other operations that work with silos and confined spaces should follow these recommendations: 1.) Employers should have a detailed confined space entry plan in place for all confined spaces. 2.) Employers should review and use alternative methods so that confined space entry is not required. 3.) Employers should consider contacting external expert consultants/contractors to help with confined space management and confined space entry processes. 4.) Employers and contractors need to follow manufacturers' recommended maintenance procedures. 5.) Employers need to have processes in place that prevent unauthorized entry. 6.) Employers need to maintain close supervision of all teen employees and contractors. 7.) All permit-required confined spaces must have detailed rescue processes and personnel in place.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Age-factors; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-processes; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Children; Confined-spaces; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Job-analysis; Occupational-safety-programs; Protective-measures; Rescue-measures; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Work-analysis; Worker-motivation; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices
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-03WA038; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008487
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries