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Two maintenance workers die after inhaling hydrogen sulfide in manhole, January 31, 1989.
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 89-28, 1989 Jun; :1-7
A 29 year old male maintenance worker entered a sewer manhole to repair a pipe, and collapsed at the bottom. In a rescue attempt a 43 year old male maintenance worker entered the manhole and also collapsed. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Both were employed by an animal hide tanning company with 24 employees. The victims had been with the company for 4 and 6 years, respectively, but the first victim had only worked in maintenance for 2 months. The facility uses 120,000 gallons of water a day to process animal hides. The wastewater is discharged into a series of lagoons approximately 400 yards from the site. On the day of the incident the workers were repairing a crack in the top of the overflow pipe. This pipe rises vertically from a horizontal pipe at the bottom of the manhole which housed a gate valve used to discharge wastewater periodically. It is thought that the first victim entered the manhole without first testing and ventilating the inside. While standing on the steel rungs inside the manhole, he began to repair the broken pipe and was overcome by hydrogen-sulfide (7783064) gas, falling to the bottom of the hole. His coworker had been assisting him from the outside and went immediately into the manhole in a rescue attempt but was also overcome. It was recommended that all employers develop and implement a safety program to protect their employees, that specific confined space entry procedures be developed, and that a comprehensive respirator program be developed and implemented.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-89-28; Region-7; Tanning-industry; Confined-spaces; Maintenance-workers; Accident-analysis; Sulfides; Toxic-gases; Personal-protective-equipment; Respiratory-protection; Industrial-wastes
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