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Workers/rescuers continue to die in confined spaces.
Pettit-TA; Sanderson-LM; Linn-HI
Prof Saf 1987 Feb; 32(2):15-20
Five separate fatal accidents involving wastewater treatment systems were reviewed with regard to the number of serious accidents occurring in confined spaces. The first case involved two laborers who were asphyxiated when a propane fire ignited in the floating cover of a digestion tank that they were preparing for painting at a secondary sewage treatment facility. The second case involved two workers who died from carbon-monoxide (630080) poisoning at a sewer construction site. A third case involved two plumbing employees who were overcome by sulfuric-acid (7664939) fumes while attempting to unclog a sewage drain and repair a septic tank. The fourth case involved two sanitation workers who drowned when raw sewage flooded a 50 foot deep underground pumping station. A police officer and the sewage system field manager also died when they were overcome by gas during rescue operations. The fifth case involved two workers who were overcome by hydrogen-sulfide (7783064) while attempting to retrieve a Plexiglas cover from a sludge chamber. The five cases were discussed with regard to NIOSH criteria for safety and health in confined workspaces. Confined spaces were defined and categorized as open topped but deep enclosures or enclosures with extremely limited openings for entry and exit. The spaces were classified according to the oxygen level, the flammability of the atmosphere, and the toxicity of the contents. Health hazards, hazardous atmospheres, and NIOSH recommendations for confined workspaces were discussed.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Occupational-hazards; Worker-health; Sewage-treatment; Industrial-wastes; Workplace-studies; Risk-factors; Industrial-safety-programs; Safety-monitoring; Safety-engineering;
630-08-0; 7664-93-9; 7783-06-4
Issue of Publication
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division