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Two dead, five injured in confined space incident in Oregon, October 10, 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 87-06, 1986 Nov; :1-6
A self employed contractor and a shipping supervisor who attempted to come to his rescue died in an underground vault. The contractor was overcome in an underground vault which housed the backflow device for the city water line running along the front of property owned by a sawmill. His was a one man operation and had no safety program or confined space entry procedures. The below ground vault measured 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet deep with a 30 inch manhole at ground level. The contractor was making an annual inspection of the backflow device, which he had also performed for the preceding 3 years. He removed the steel cover and lowered a ladder into the vault. A half hour later a truck driver saw a body in the vault and called the emergency squad. The shipping supervisor from the sawmill and a maintenance man entered the vault in a rescue attempt. Within 2 to 3 minutes both men had passed out. Two policemen and two paramedics attempted a rescue, but had to be helped out of the vault and taken to a hospital. Firemen with breathing apparatus removed the three men at the bottom; two of them died due to drowning. Algae bloom and bacterial action in the water caused displacement of oxygen in the vault by carbon-dioxide (124389). Recommendations include the performance of service contracts only with a valid safety program in force to be followed by the contractor, development of confined space policies and procedures, and the training of public service employees who may respond to emergency situations in confined space hazards and rescue procedures.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-87-06; Region-10; Confined-spaces; Sewer-cleaning; Sewage-industry; Safety-practices; Accident-analysis; Firemen; Policemen
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