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Labor foreman falls to his death inside municipal water tank in Indiana, March 21, 1988.

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 88-14, 1988 Jul; :1-7
The case of a 28 year old male labor foreman who died when he fell 50 feet inside a 700,000 gallon municipal water tank was examined. The employer specialized in cathodic protection systems; the company had a written safety policy which prescribed the use of fall protection. The victim and a coworker were assigned routine maintenance work on the cathodic protection system within an elevated municipal water tank. The tank had been drained, leaving a small amount of water in the bottom with ice on its surface. A catwalk circled the tank about 125 feet off the ground. A permanently mounted ladder extended from this catwalk to the top of the tank, where a door provided entry to the tank. The victim and a coworker climbed to the top of the tank and suspended a rope ladder through the door to provide access to the tank floor. The men set a siphon in place to drain the water. On exiting the tank, the coworker stopped on the catwalk to wait for his supervisor. When he failed to appear, the coworker returned to the top of the tank and found the man inside, about one quarter of the way up the ladder. The supervisor indicated that he needed help. In attempting to assist the victim, the coworker was able to climb down, and grasp his hand. However, he was not able to make the man respond to his calls to grasp the ladder and the victim fell to his death 50 feet below. No evidence of an oxygen deficient atmosphere was noted inside the tank. The company should ensure that confined space entry procedures are followed.
NIOSH-Author; Region-5; FACE-88-14; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Safety-research; Maintenance-workers; Confined-spaces
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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