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Two workers die in underground valve pit in Oklahoma.
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 86-37, 1986 Aug; :1-6
An attempt was made by a three man crew to shut off water supply to a broken 24 inch water main. One worker entered a 10 foot deep valve pit through the 22 inch manhole opening via a built in steel ladder, and called for help after several minutes. A second worker went in to assist him and was also overcome; the third worker tried to enter to assist, but then retreated to call for help. Firemen arrived on the scene within several minutes and, wearing self contained breathing apparatus, entered the valve pit to remove the workmen. The two workers died a short time later at a local hospital. The cause of death was listed as asphyxia due to oxygen deficiency. Although city policy required that confined spaces be tested prior to entry, the valve pit had not been tested before worker entry. This valve pit had not been opened in 3 years, and testing of a pit 2 miles downstream showed an oxygen level of 3.0 percent. Recommendations arising from this accident included: making certain that employees are aware of hazards associated with the tasks they are performing and providing specific information in the employee safety manuals, especially when tasks to be performed are life threatening.
NIOSH-Author; Region-6; FACE-86-37; Sewer-cleaning; Water-industry; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Confined-spaces
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division