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Three construction supervisors die from asphyxiation in manhole in Georgia, August 19, 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 88-36, 1988 Dec; :1-6
The case of three deaths of construction workers in an oxygen deficient manhole was examined. The men were employed by a construction company which had a written safety program but no policy on confined space entry. The assistant construction supervisor entered a manhole to close the gate valve in preparation for filling a decorative pond at a newly constructed industrial park setting. The foreman, who was watching the man, yelled to his superintendent that something was wrong and that he was going down into the manhole. The superintendent rushed over and also entered the hole. At no time prior to the entry of any of these three individuals had the atmosphere in the manhole been checked. All three men were found collapsed at the bottom of the hole. The cause of death for the three workers was listed as asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen. Tests of the atmosphere after the manhole had been closed for 8 days indicated that the oxygen content at 10 feet was 18.4 percent, decreasing to 15.2 percent at 22 feet. It is recommended that the employer develop and implement specific procedures for confined space entry. Such procedures should be posted where they will be noticed by employees. The atmosphere of a confined space must be tested prior to entry. Personal protective equipment and clothing should be available and the employees trained in their proper usage. Confined space rescue procedures should also be designed.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-88-36; Region-4; Accident-analysis; Confined-spaces; Safety-research; Work-practices; Construction-workers; Breathing-atmospheres; Construction-Search
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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