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April 6, 2016



31-year-old worker died from exposure to manure gas, OSHA finds
W.E. Soil Enhancement cited for serious safety violations

VICKERY, Ohio - A 31-year-old worker found unresponsive on a Vickery farm was overcome by exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas from the pig manure he loaded into trailers for use as fertilizer. Federal investigators determined his death was caused by inhalation of the gas which is rapidly absorbed by the lungs.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited W. E. Soil Enhancement on March 18, 2016, for three serious safety violations, after it completed its investigation into the Oct. 31, 2015, death. Agriculture is among the most dangerous occupations in America, with 143 deaths recorded in the industry in 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

"Symptoms from overexposure to hydrogen sulfide gas can come on rapidly and quickly overcome a worker," said Kim Nelson, OSHA's area director in Toledo. "The agriculture industry needs to educate its employees that the foul odors that come with manure spreading are not just unpleasant they are unsafe and can be deadly. It is imperative that farm workers are protected from inhaling these gases."

In its investigation, OSHA determined W. E. Soil Enhancement should have:

  • Provided engineering controls and respiratory protection to protect workers from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas.
  • Developed and trained workers on a hazard communication program.
  • Identified and evaluated respiratory hazards.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $16,800. View current citations here*.

The Bellevue-based company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Toledo, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Toledo Area Office at (419) 259-7542.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 16-369-CHI

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