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City water worker dies as a result of being overcome by natural gas vapors while reading a water meter in a confined space in Ohio, July 1, 1985.

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 85-40, 1985 Aug; :1-6
On July 1, 1985, an industrial meter reader employed by a mid sized city in Ohio began his workday at 7:30 am. He did not return to the garage at quitting time, 4 pm, and was found face down in a meter vault at 6:45 pm. Resuscitation efforts were not successful. The victim was 42 years old and was assigned 76 accounts to be read that day, a route with which he was unfamiliar. The victim had read 33 of the 76 accounts when he reached the accident site. This was the first time the newly installed meter in this vault was to be read. The victim apparently had difficulty removing the cover as the hook used to pull the lid open was straightened out and a sledge hammer was lying next to the manhole. The manhole cover did not have the holes required for ventilation. The meter vault had over 4 inches of water in it. A faint odor of natural gas was noticed in the vault. A leak was found in a nearby line. Further study revealed a leak in the natural gas line about 34 inches from the vault. The cause of death was cardiovascular collapse due to acute myocardial ischemia due to inhalation of toxic gases. It is recommended that the city should implement a comprehensive safety program, and that the employer should have had comprehensive policies and procedure for confined space entry.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-85-40; Region-5; Confined-spaces; Toxic-gases; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices
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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