Two Laborers Die from Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure in a Confined Space at an Organic Waste Recycling Facility
California Case Report: 11CA008
The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Two laborers, 16 and 22-year-old brothers, died while cleaning the drainage system of an organic waste recycling facility. Both were exposed to excessive levels of hydrogen sulfide. The brothers were part of a three-man crew that was flushing out the drainage system consisting of 24-inch diameter underground pipes accessed by approximately 14 manhole shafts. While using a high-pressure water hose to flush residual compost, the 16-year-old was overcome by hydrogen sulfide and fell to the bottom of a 10-foot shaft. The 22-year-old collapsed at the bottom of the shaft after attempting to rescue his brother. Contributing factors identified in this investigation were the high concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the shaft, failure to implement a confined space and hazard communication program, and the age of the youngest victim.