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Hispanic sawmill worker dies inside storage silo after being engulfed in sawdust - North Carolina.

deGuzman-G; Higgins-DN; Kingman-DM
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 2004-09, 2005 May; :1-11
On May 17, 2004, a 36-year-old Hispanic laborer (the victim) died after he entered a sawdust storage silo to unclog a sweep auger advance mechanism and became engulfed in sawdust. Several minutes after the victim entered the silo, a Hispanic coworker working nearby heard a noise from the silo which prompted him to call out to the victim. When he heard no response, he and several Hispanic co-workers began looking for the victim. After approximately 20 minutes of digging through the collapsed sawdust, they found him. Coworkers ran to several locations trying to report the incident and get help. They notified a company senior official who then called 911. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) responded within approximately 30-35 minutes of the presumed time of engulfment and attempted resuscitation. They transported the victim by ambulance to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead by the emergency room physician. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. ensure that equipment is inspected daily and all defective equipment is removed from service until needed repairs have been made; 2. consider retrofitting silos and similar storage facilities with mechanical leveling/raking devices or other means to minimize the need for workers to enter; 3. develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety and training program for all workers, including requirements for work in permit-required confined spaces, such as silos; 4, train workers in hazard recognition and safe work practices for all tasks to which they are assigned or allowed to perform, including those pertaining to work in permit-required confined spaces. The use of the workers' primary language(s) and careful consideration of literacy levels will maximize worker comprehension of these subjects; and, 5. post warning signs at entrances to permit-required confined spaces, such as silos, warning of immediate danger and safety requirements for entry in a language(s) that all workers can understand.
Region-4; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Sawmill-workers; Dusts; Warning-signs
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Construction; Grant
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-2004-09; Grant-Number-T01-CCT-310455
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
West Virginia University, School of Medicine, Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health, Morgantown, West Virginia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division