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Electroplater and four co-workers die from asphyxiation in metal plating vat in Indiana, June 28, 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 88-33, 1988 Dec; :1-9
The case of a 25 year old male electroplater and four coworkers who died after entering a metal plating vat being cleaned was examined. The victim was employed by an electroplating company that had no written safety program, no emergency procedures, no ongoing safety training, and no confined space safe entry procedure. In a cleaning procedure that had not been tried before, the victim manually pumped between 1 and 2 gallons of 1 percent muriatic-acid solution into the zinc-cyanide holding tank, and climbed into the tank. The tank had not been tested nor ventilated before entry. The muriatic-acid and zinc-cyanide reacted chemically, producing hydrogen-cyanide (74908) gas which overcame the victim shortly after entering the tank. Coworkers observed the man trying to climb out but falling back; they rushed to help. Four coworkers entered the tank and were overcome. By this time most others could not even get close to the holding tank due to the fumes. Police and firefighters who responded were initially unaware that hydrogen-cyanide was involved; four police officers, 13 firefighters and a medical examiner required medical treatment. Twelve additional company workers also required treatment. The deaths of all five electroplaters were listed as due to exposure to hydrogen-cyanide vapor. It is recommended that the company develop and implement a written safety and training program, a procedure for confined space entry, and a comprehensive respirator program. Personnel responsible for emergency rescue should be trained in confined space rescue and hazardous material emergencies.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-88-33; Region-5; Safety-research; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Confined-spaces; Electroplating; Zinc-plating; Toxic-gases
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