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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 170389795 - Employee Dies When Coal Surface Collapses, Burying Him

Accident: 170389795 -- Report ID: 0551800 -- Event Date: 12/30/1993
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
12406238112/30/19938051Muscatutuck State Development Center
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on December 30, 1993, 60-year-old Employee #1 and a coworker entered the interior of a coal storage silo to find out why there was no coal supply down through the main chute leading to the power plant below. Outdoor temperatures had not exceeded the mid-20s for at least 5 days. Employee #1 and the coworker climbed 8 feet up an interior fixed industrial ladder to the silo's outer circumference and walked on top of the frozen coal. Employee #1 carried a 1-inch diameter steel hollow pipe. Employee #1 began to bang and chop away on the frozen coal. In an instant, the entire surface collapsed under Employee #1. He disappeared from total view within 2 to 3 seconds. Instinctively, the coworker held onto Employee #1's coveralls for those few seconds, but as he realized that he was sinking, he let go of Employee #1. The coal stopped collapsing and the coworker crawled back to the interior ladder, ascended the flight elevator, and sounded an emergency alarm buzzer and horn in the power plant below. The rescue and retrieval of Employee #1's body took 3 hours 10 minutes. His body was finally found at the head of the main gravity chute. Lack of an existing confined space entry program, adequate and effective employee training on confined space entry procedures, and an effective work permit program, as well as the excessively cold temperatures, all contributed to this fatality.
Keywords: asphyxiated, collapse, confined space, work rules, coal silo, coal, inexperience, unstable surface, frozen, untrained
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 124062381 Fatality Asphyxia Power plant operators

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