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Steelworker dies in oxygen-deficient confined space in South Carolina, 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 88-20, 1988 Sep; :1-5
The case of a 36 year old male general supervisor for the midnight shift at a steel mill who died when he entered the oxygen deficient service area beneath a 75 ton capacity, turret mounted molten steel ladle was examined. The victim was employed by a steel mill in operation for 19 years. Mill policy prohibited access to the turret service area to all personnel except maintenance workers trained in proper entry procedures. The victim and his crew were scheduled to work 2 overtime hours to prepare the facility for a tour of 500 international steelmakers. During the shift a gauge indicated an abnormal consumption of argon (7440371); argon was piped through the service area into the ladle. The victim did not alert anyone that he was going to enter the service area. It is assumed that he attempted to locate the argon leak in the piping after he and his crew were relieved. To do so he entered the oxygen deficient atmosphere and lost consciousness. Since the accident, the argon piping has been routed outside the service area and all workers have been trained in entry procedures. It was noted that the victim not only knew and understood mill policy, but that he had been exposed to and overcome by argon less than 2 month prior to his fatal accident. In this case knowledge of the danger was not sufficient. It is recommended that all entrances to restricted areas be locked, and only authorized persons be provided with the means to enter.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-88-20; Region-4; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Safety-research; Confined-spaces; Maintenance-workers; Steel-industry; Breathing-atmospheres
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