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Two construction workers die inside sewer manhole in Indiana, July 21, 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 87-67, 1988 Apr; :1-6
The case of a worker for a construction company who died when he entered a 7 foot deep sewer manhole with toxic and oxygen deficient atmosphere was examined. The worker was employed by a family owned construction company with a written, one page safety policy addressing employee responsibility, general safety guidelines, confined space safety and injury reporting. At the time of the accident the worker and his foreman were looking for an existing sewer manhole near a new housing project. Apparently the men located the sewer manhole, removed the cover, and the foreman entered the hole through a 24 inch diameter manway opening to check for sewer grade. The foreman collapsed in the hole. The second man, attempting to save the first, also collapsed in the hole. Atmospheric testing of the manhole revealed 15.7 percent oxygen at 3 feet, decreasing to less than 5 percent at 6 feet. Also at 6 feet, a 2 percent methane (74828) concentration was detected and a 0.1 to death for both men was listed as asphyxiation. It is recommended that no confined space entry be made without checking the atmosphere in the space. Employees should be carefully instructed concerning the dangers in confined space entry. This particular employer should develop a more comprehensive safety policy and procedures manual.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-87-67; Region-5; Safety-research; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Confined-spaces; Construction-workers; Toxic-gases; Breathing-atmospheres
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
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