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Two confined space fatalities during construction of a sewer line.
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 84-13, 1984 Jun; :1-8
The case of two workers who were killed at a sewer construction site was examined. On March 8, 1984 a labor foreman, and a 20 year old worker entered the sewer to start a gasoline engine driven pump installed to remove existing sewage from the pipe during construction activities. A haze was noted and the first worker reported dizziness. The first worker became unresponsive and the foreman went for help. Seven workers and the underground superintendent entered the pipe in unsuccessful attempts to rescue the worker. A state inspector also entered the sewer and proceeded toward the downed worker, but was overcome. The first worker and the state inspector were removed by firemen wearing self contained breathing apparatus; both were pronounced dead at the scene. The concentration of carbon-monoxide (630080) next to the pump at the time of the incident was estimated to be 2,000 parts per million. It was concluded that the cause of death was exposure to high levels of carbon-monoxide in a confined space. Several recommendations were made, including the generation of safe alternatives for an effective temporary barrier in the new sewer, locating the pump outside of the sewer, providing adequate ventilation for workers required to enter the sewer, testing the atmosphere prior to entering the sewer, appropriate worker training, compliance by management and local supervisors with policies and procedures governing confined spaces, and the development of safe job procedures and rescue efforts.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-84-013; Accident-analysis; Sewage-industry; Construction-workers; Confined-spaces; Toxic-gases; Breathing-atmospheres; Construction-Search
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