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Dockworker dies due to carbon monoxide poisoning while using a gasoline powered pressure washer to clean inside a freshwater tank - Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State 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 06MA045, 2010 Mar; :1-10
On November 9, 2006, a 38 year old dock worker (the victim) died from carbon monoxide poisoning, as he was pressure washing a freshwater tank on a fishing vessel. Five additional dockworkers sustained exposures to carbon monoxide in rescue attempts, and seven fire, police and emergency medical personnel were also exposed. The gasoline-powered pressure washer was placed below deck at the opening for the freshwater tank. The victim was overcome while pressure washing inside the tank. Two co-workers found the victim inside the tank and climbed in and pulled the victim out of the tank, but remained below deck. The two co-workers started to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a bystander placed a call for emergency assistance. The local police and fire departments and emergency medical services all responded to the incident site. The victim, four co-workers, four firefighters and one police officer were transported to various local hospitals. The victim was pronounced dead at the local hospital where he was transported. The Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Project concluded that to prevent similar occurrences in the future, employers should: 1.) Ensure that fuel-burning pressure washers are placed outdoors during operation and that carbon monoxide detectors are placed between the pressure washer and workers; and 2.) Develop, implement, and enforce a confined space entry program, as part of a comprehensive health and safety program. Employers of first responders should: 3.) Develop procedures for rescuing victims in enclosed spaces with hazardous atmospheres. Retailers, distributors and rental agents for fuel burning equipment, such as pressure washers, should: 4.) Affix a carbon monoxide (CO) warning label to equipment and provide customers with a CO fact sheet. Manufacturers of fuel-burning pressure washers should: 5.) Affix a warning label about the hazards of carbon monoxide on their equipment; and 6.) Develop and promote fuel-burning equipment that emits low levels of carbon monoxide.
Region-1; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Biological-effects; Confined-spaces; Equipment-operators; Exposure-levels; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Rescue-measures; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Ventilation; Warning-signs; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance
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-06MA045; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008490
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division