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Sewer maintenance worker killed by nozzle tip on jet/vac hose.

Iowa Department of Public Health
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 99IA038, 2000 Mar; :1-5
On August 6, 1999, a 29 year old male public works employee died when he was struck by the nozzle of a high pressure water hose. Two employees were doing routine cleaning of the sanitary sewer line using a combination jet/vac truck equipped with a water-powered hose and nozzle. The nozzle somehow came back up through the manhole and struck the victim in the head. His co-worker was at the next manhole some distance away, and not in visible sight due to a ravine and landscape between the two positions. His co-worker stated that as the sewer cleaning was in process, he heard the nozzle approaching his end of the sewer line, indicating there were no obstructions in the line, and radioed the victim. The victim started reeling the hose back to the truck. The co-worker heard the truck idle down and knew that the hose was back at the start of the sewer line. The victim radioed the co-worker to confirm that he was shutting the unit down. The co-worker started fastening down the manhole cover following normal procedures, when he heard the truck idle back up to operating speed. He then heard boys screaming and knew something had happened. It took him some time to get through the ravine and back to the truck. Upon arriving at the truck, he found the victim lying by the manhole with massive head injuries. The nozzle had somehow come back up through the manhole and struck the victim in the head. Bystanders reported that they heard something explode from the back of the truck. They saw the hose spraying water into the air and the victim lying on the street, and immediately called 911. The city police and fire department responded, and the victim was unconscious when they arrived. Life Flight helicopter was notified and transported the victim to a local hospital. The victim remained unconscious and died two days later. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Employees must follow manufacturer's instructions when using equipment. 2. Safety issues should be re-emphasized periodically during staff meetings.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Sewer-cleaning; Sewage-industry; Maintenance-workers; Equipment-reliability
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-99IA038; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division