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Pipefitter/project foreman died when struck by ruptured sewer pipe/mechanical plug.

Michigan State University
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 07MI024, 2008 Apr; :1-9
On March 30, 2007, a 53-year-old male pipefitter and project foreman for a mechanical contractor died when a storm sewer pipe and inflatable plug dislodged and struck him causing fatal injuries to his chest and abdomen. The three-person crew was in a county park's lift station to replace two pumps. The water was pumped down and the decedent and Coworker #1 went down to the bottom of the manhole to install a mechanical plug into a 26-inch diameter storm sewer pipe that drained into the lift station. The plug was inflated and the water stopped flowing into the station. Coworker #2 was at the top of the 10- x 10-foot manhole monitoring the situation. The decedent and Coworker #1 installed a pump base anchor in the floor directly in front of the mechanical plug they had installed in the sewer line. No blocking or bracing was installed in front of the plug. While the decedent and Coworker #1 were drilling anchor holes in the floor, the wall, sewer pipe and plug exploded into the manhole, striking both employees (Figure 1). The decedent was knocked unconscious and Coworker #1 was thrown across the lift station. Coworkers #1 and #2 lifted the decedent to the 2nd level of the lift station and started CPR. When emergency response arrived, they extricated the decedent from the 2nd level and transported him to a local hospital where he later died. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure that workers follow all pneumatic pipe plug manufacturer's safety recommendations and other safety precautions relevant to the safe installation and use of pneumatic pipe plugs. 2. Employers should develop written confined space programs that contain specific procedures for all tasks to be performed and ensure employees follow the procedures. 3. Employers should institute a Health and Safety (H&S) committee as part of their health and safety program. 4. Employers should provide workers with training in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the required safe work practices that apply to their work environments.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Safety-programs; Supervisory-personnel; Training; Sewage-industry; Confined-spaces; Risk-factors; Plumbers; Plumbing
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-07MI024; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466
Priority Area
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Services
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division