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Municipal sewer maintenance worker drowns inside sewer wet well - Illinois.

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 90-14, 1990 May; :1-8
A municipal sewer maintenance worker (victim) drowned inside a sewer wet well. The victim was part of a four-man sewer maintenance crew assigned to clean out a sewer wet well, which was 20 feet deep and 6 feet in diameter. The victim entered through a 24-inch-diameter manway and climbed down on fixed steel rungs which extended to the bottom. The wet well atmosphere had not been tested nor ventilated before entering. The victim was wearing a full-body harness (secured to a winch cable) and a supplied-air respirator. After descending 8 feet to a grating platform, the victim installed an inflatable sewer plug into the end of an 18-inch-diameter inlet sewer pipe 2 feet below ground level. After inflating the sewer plug the victim climbed down to the bottom of the wet well and began cleaning out the wet well with an 8-inch-diameter sewer vacuum hose. Within a few minutes the victim removed the respirator facepiece, complaining to a co-worker that the respirator was in his way. Approximately 30 minutes later, the sewer plug gave way causing sewage to flood the wet well. Co-workers were unable to rescue the victim and he subsequently drowned. The NIOSH investigator concluded that, in order to prevent future similar occurrences, employers and employees must: 1) follow sewer plug manufacturer recommendations on the installation and use of inflatable sewer plugs; 2) develop, implement and enforce specific confined space entry procedures; 3) ensure that appropriate rescue equipment is utilized during confined space entry; 4) ensure that appropriate personal protective equipment is properly worn; 5) consider the feasibility of installing self-priming wet well sewer pumps.
Region-5; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Maintenance-workers; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-safety-programs; Sewer-cleaning; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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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