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Pipefitter testing chill water lines dies following an unexpected pressure release which resulted in a four-foot fall from a stepladder in West Virginia.

West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services
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 97WV034, 1997 Oct; :1-5
On April 16, 1997, a 26-year-old male pipefitter died and a co-worker was injured when air pressure released unexpectedly in a chill water line they were testing, precipitating a fall. The two men were standing on opposite sides of a stepladder reaching overhead to remove a blank they had placed in the water line earlier in the day. Air pressure in the water line caused the blank to blow-out and both workers fell from the ladder. Following prompt emergency response, the co-worker was treated the local hospital and released, while the victim was transported to a local hospital where he was officially pronounced dead approximately thirty minutes following the incident. The WV FACE investigator concluded that to prevent similar occurrences, the following recommendations should be followed: 1. Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes, but is not limited to, a thorough hazard analysis and utilization of controls specific to the job. 2. Instruct each employee to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions applicable to their work environment, including but not limited to, pressure testing procedures and safe access to elevated work areas. 3. Incorporate worker safety in the planning phases of construction projects.
Region-3; 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; Ladders; Step-ladders; Safety-programs; Equipment-operators; Plumbers
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-97WV034; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-312914
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division