NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Preventing confined space fatalities by eliminating the need for entry.

Manwaring JC
The American Society of Safety Engineers 30th Annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition, June 15-21, 1991, Denver, Colorado 1991 Jun; :1-7
In an effort to establish safety requirements for entering and working inside confined spaces, five representative cases of confined space fatalities that occurred during the performance of tasks that could have been accomplished from outside of the confined space using currently available equipment and technology were described. The first case involved five workers who died due to exposure to hydrogen-cyanide (74908) gas generated when a muriatic- acid cleaning solution came into contact with the zinc-cyanide sludge being removed from a plating drip tank. The use of tanks with built in mechanical devices to remove sludge buildup could have prevented this accident. The second case involved three construction workers who were killed after entering a manhole with 15% oxygen without first testing or ventilating it or wearing protective equipment. In the third case five farm workers were killed by methane (74828) asphyxiation in a manure pit. Use of explosion proof powered ventilation, hoisting devices and proper rescue procedures may have prevented this tragedy. The fourth case described a worker drowned in a sewer wet well when a sewer plug failed and the well was flooded. Sewer vacuum cleaning devices were available that could have accomplished the task attempted by the worker without having to enter the well. The last case described involved the deaths of three firefighters due to carbon-monoxide (630080) poisoning while trying to pump water out of a well. None of the victims was wearing respiratory protective equipment, they were not trained for work in confined spaces, and they could have used alternative methods that did not involve entering the well. The authors conclude that many confined space fatalities are preventable by the use of basic safety engineering designs and procedures.
Confined-spaces; Occupational-accidents; Firemen; Safety-engineering; Safety-practices; Farmers; Construction-workers; Occupational-hazards; Protective-equipment; Toxic-gases
74-90-8; 74-82-8; 630-08-0
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
The American Society of Safety Engineers 30th Annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition, June 15-21, 1991, Denver, Colorado, 7 pages, 6 references
Page last reviewed: March 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division