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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 170358147 - Employees Fall Into Air Pocket In Salt Hopper, One Dies

Accident: 170358147 -- Report ID: 0950635 -- Event Date: 05/09/1994
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
12012762605/09/19942899Morton International
Large 60 ton hoppers were used to store and process industrial salt. The salt was sized to different grades and stored in the hoppers until it was needed for distribution. To help the salt flow through the hopper, large screw conveyors were installed at their lower section. When the salt solidified, air pockets developed above the conveyors and the conveyors worked empty, without pulling through salt. On May 9, 1994, at approximately 7:15 a.m., Employees #1 and #2 were required to enter a hopper to help the salt flow down. Employees #1 and #2, each wearing a harness and lanyard, entered the hopper. While they were standing on top of the salt that was being processed, they were instructed to loosen the salt cakes. Suddenly, the surface of the salt on which they were standing gave way and Employees #1 and #2 fell into an air pocket. Employee #1's protective lanyard was tied too long and he fell approximately 20 ft to the lowest portion of the air pocket where he was buried and asphyxiated by the falling salt. Employee #2 was retained by his protective lanyard at the upper portion of the air pocket, approximately 15 ft down, and suffered no serious injury. The employees had not been provided with a safe working platform and there was no rescue team to save them quickly.
Keywords: asphyxiated, confined space, work rules, cleaning, lanyard, unstable surface, fall, bridged material, buried, hopper
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 120127626 Non Hospitalized injury Concussion Occupation not reported
2 120127626 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported

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