On July 12, 2005, a 38-year-old female quality control operator fell into a brine tank being filled with cherries and drowned. She was the primary tank room supervisor responsible for supervising the loading station employees, monitoring the incoming levels of cherries into the brine tank, recirculation of excess brine from the tank back to the loading station, and moving cherry/brine supply and brine recirculation hoses when the tank was full. Each cherry holding tank has two access ports each covered with a wood cover. One port contained a 4-inch cherry/brine supply hose and a 2-inch brine recirculation hose. The other port contained another 2-inch recirculation hose. Her fall into the cherry holding tank was unwitnessed. It appears she rotated the cover on the port with the one 2-inch recirculation hose, and using an overhead portable utility light, was kneeling on the deck when she fell into the tank. Employees found her floating in the tank, and after one unsuccessful rescue attempt due to the brine fumes, were able to pull her out of the tank. They took her to fresh air, initiated CPR and called 911. Emergency response arrived and took her by ambulance to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Recommendations: 1. Employers should develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written safety program for all workers, which include training in hazard recognition and the avoidance of unsafe conditions. 2. Employers should develop and present to workers an annual refresher safety training program for seasonal job tasks. Employers should develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive written program for work in permit-required confined spaces, such as the processing brine tanks. 3. The employer should develop a tank opening cover that will allow sightline into the tank, hose access, prevent workers from falling into the tank opening, and allow for proper sulfur dioxide (SO2) ventilation. 4. The employer should develop and implement a personal protective equipment (PPE) program, including a respiratory protection program; train employees about PPE (including respirators) use, and enforce employee use of designated PPE. 5. The employer should reevaluate its organizational commitment and leadership in regards to its safety program. 6. The employer should establish a joint health and safety committee. 7. The employer should consider the feasibility of establishing a mode of escape from inside the cherry holding tank. MIFACE recommends that the company's safety and health program include: Air monitoring during the brining operations to evaluate employee exposure to SO2 to determine whether mechanical ventilation for the brine house is necessary.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Food-processing; Food-processing-industry; Food-processing-equipment; Food-processing-workers