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Worker dies inside filtration tank in Michigan, May 12, 1987.

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 87-47, 1987 Jul; :1-6
A 55 year old city worker with 25 years experience died while checking the inside of an empty, open top concrete filtration tank at a sewage treatment facility. The tank was 15 feet wide by 24 feet long and 12 feet deep. The facility had regular safety procedures, safety education for employees, and necessary testing equipment for confined space atmospheric analysis along with several self contained breathing apparatus units. No specific training was offered on confined space entry. The victim's task was to inspect the depth of filter media in all 12 filter tanks. He had completed six tanks 4 days prior to the accident. Having completed one of the remaining inspections, the victim was either climbing in or out of the second tank when he fell from the ladder, striking his head on a ladder rung or an edge of the weir. The man was considerably overweight. Autopsy listed cause of death as hypertensive and arteriosclerotic heart disease with advanced emphysema and possible diabetes mellitus. It is recommended that persons required to enter confined spaces as part of their jobs be given preplacement and periodic physical examinations, that a written comprehensive safety program be prepared for entry into confined spaces, that a trained standby person remain outside, that employees be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and that the present method used to determine the level of filter media in a tank be replaced, if possible, with a method not requiring tank entry.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-87-47; Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Safety-practices; Confined-spaces; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Sewage-industry; Waste-treatment; Sewage-treatment; Cardiovascular-system-disease
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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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