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Mechanic dies from lack of oxygen in transport tank.

Oregon Department of 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 04OR002, 2007 May; :1-6
On February 4, 2004, a 23-year-old tank mechanic died when he entered a permit-required confined space. The mechanic was assigned to prepare a shipping container used to transport silicon tetrachloride for an inspection. The tank had been purged with an inert nitrogen atmosphere. While waiting for the inspector to arrive, the mechanic entered the tank for an unknown reason, apparently without first testing the atmosphere, and died of asphyxiation. When the victim was discovered about an hour later, a coworker jumped into the tank, again without testing the atmosphere first, and lifted the victim up to others standing on top of the tank. Testing by fire department responders showed the atmosphere at the bottom of the tank to be about 12% oxygen, below the minimum safe level of 19.5% oxygen. CAUSE OF DEATH: Asphyxiation. RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Employers must evaluate confined spaces in the workplace. A permit-required confined space requires written entry procedures, including posted documentation of test results by an authorized person. 2. Never enter a confined space without first testing the atmosphere with an appropriate air-monitoring instrument. 3. Never enter a confined space without appropriate personal protective equipment for safe entry. 4. A trained attendant must monitor workers in a confined space and be prepared for an emergency response that does not involve direct entry of the space.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Work-operations; Training; Confined-spaces; Atmosphere-analyzers; Air-quality-monitoring; Emergency-responders; Work-environment; Work-operations; Breathing-atmospheres; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Respiration; Mechanics
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-04OR002; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-021204; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008324; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008472
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Oregon Department of Human Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division