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Handyman plumber asphyxiated in entry into water service manhole vault.

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 05IA042, 2007 Jun; :1-5
Early in the summer of 2005 a 67-year-old, self-employed handyman died upside down, head first in a water service manhole. His shoulders and head pressed against the sand at the bottom of the manhole pit. He had been called to fix a water leak in an adjacent rental house. The on/off valve for the public water supply to this house was in this pit or vault, 1.7 m (5.5 ft) below the manhole cover. Tools to operate the valve were stored reachable from above ground level inside the manhole vault. He worked alone, his death was not witnessed, and his body was not immediately discovered. First responders found no abnormal oxygen levels, combustibles, or toxic air contaminants in the manhole vault at the time of the rescue. The victim was extricated and transported. It was determined that his death resulted from positional asphyxia. RECOMMENDATIONS: 1. Identify property and workplace hazards such as confined spaces. 2. Eliminate or reduce confined space hazards and associated risks. 3. Develop and implement a comprehensive and effective confined spaces program. 4. Establish and enforce a contractor safety program.
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; Confined-spaces; Toxic-gases; Plumbers; Plumbing; Safety-programs
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-05IA042; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008460
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: July 23, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division