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Maintenance worker suffocates from engulfment after falling into sawdust silo - Virginia, September 21, 1990.
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 91-04, 1991 Mar; :1-9
The case of a 52 year old male maintenance worker who died after falling headfirst into a sawdust silo was examined. He worked for a furniture manufacturer which employed 275 full time workers including six maintenance workers. The company had a written safety program. The victim was responsible for keeping the scrap wood conveyers, sawdust removal ducts, and two silos operating. He apparently climbed a staircase on the side of the silo, removed the cover to a 24 inch diameter manhole at the top and peered inside. He used a tool like a garden hoe with a 10 foot long aluminum handle to rake down the sawdust pile. The victim apparently slipped from his position and fell 7 feet headfirst into the sawdust. The upper half of his body was submerged in the sawdust and he suffocated. It was recommended that fall protection equipment be provided to all workers who may be exposed to the hazard of a fall, that safe work procedures be developed for employees working near or in confined spaces containing unstable materials, that a comprehensive confined space safety program be developed, and that consideration be given to retrofitting silos and similar storage facilities with mechanical leveling or raking devices or other means to minimize the need for workers to climb and enter silos.
NIOSH-Author; Region-3; FACE-91-04; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Confined-spaces; Wood-dusts; Furniture-industry; Furniture-manufacture; Maintenance-workers
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