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General maintenance person asphyxiated attempting to repair water leak in Indiana, October 21, 1986.
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 87-23, 1987 Feb; :1-4
A general maintenance person, employed in this capacity for 13 years with a construction company, was asphyxiated when he became lodged in a water meter pit. His job had been to inspect and repair a leaking water valve which controlled the flow of water from the municipal system to a restaurant. The victim was alone at the time of the accident. He apparently removed the metal cap covering the water meter pit, placing the cap on the ground beside the opening. The pit itself was 14 inches in diameter and 4 feet deep, located in the ground with the top at ground level. The worker knelt beside the opening on both knees and reached into the pit until his head, both arms, and part of his shoulders were inside the pit. He became stuck and died as a result of positional asphyxia. He had been drinking the morning of the accident and the blood alcohol analysis indicated a concentration of 0.18 percent; the legal intoxication level for Indiana is 0.10 percent. Recommendations arising from this accident were that supervisory personnel routinely monitor employee performance to determine any impairments of physical or mental capabilities related to alcohol, drugs or prescription medication, and that all possible hazards associated with the job site be identified, evaluated and addressed by supervisory personnel.
NIOSH-Author; Region-5; FACE-87-23; Maintenance-workers; Construction-industry; Confined-spaces; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices; Alcoholism; Drug-abuse
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division