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Use of sulfuric acid results in two deaths in waste water holding tank in Pennsylvania.
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 85-23, 1985 May; :1-5
On May 13, 1985, two 21 year old workmen from a plumbing company were attempting to unclog a drain of a residential waste water holding tank when they were overcome by gases; both died. The workers poured 2 gallons of sulfuric-acid (7664939) into the drain to dissolve the material creating the blockage. Some time after pouring the acid down the drain line, one workman entered the tank to repair a broken elbow joint. After a short time, the workman in the tank attempted to climb out but was overcome. His partner went to his aid and was also overcome by the fumes. The homeowner called the county emergency system. The victims were removed from the tank by a fireman using a self contained breathing apparatus about 20 minutes after the incident. One worker was dead at the scene; the other died 2 weeks later. It is recommended that workers be assigned tasks commensurate with their training and experience and that workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including respirators, while working in a confined space.
NIOSH-Author; Region-3; FACE-85-23; Confined-spaces; Plumbers; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices; 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