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Two sanitation employees die in confined space in Kentucky, August 24, 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 85-44, 1985 Aug; :1-6
On August 24, 1985, two sanitation employees at a waste water treatment facility in Kentucky died in a sludge distribution chamber. A 25 year old shift foreman and a 32 year old operator were taking sludge samples from the chamber. The clear Plexiglas cover was removed from an opening in the top of the chamber so that samples could be taken using a cup attached to a rod. When the cover was replaced, it broke, and the pieces fell into the chamber. The shift foreman was notified of this, and it was decided to use an extension ladder to enter the chamber. The monitoring camera was moved aside, apparently to make room for the ladder. A worker in the area noticed the unattended ladder, and investigated. The victims were found lying face down at the bottom of the tank in the sludge. The victims were retrieved from the chamber by emergency squad members using self contained breathing apparatus. The chamber was latter found to have a hydrogen-sulfide (7783064) level in excess of 500 parts per million. Recommendations include development of policies and procedures for confined space entry, training workers in confined space entry procedures, placing warning signs near points of access to potentially hazardous areas, and installing an improved opening cover for the sludge distribution chambers.
NIOSH-Author; Region-4; FACE-85-44; Sewage-industry; Sewage-treatment; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices; Confined-spaces; Toxic-gases
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