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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200012979 - Employee Dies Of Asphyxia In Sewer

Accident: 200012979 -- Report ID: 0729300 -- Event Date: 10/10/2011
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31591628810/10/20111623Unnerstall Contracting Co.
On October 10, 2011, Employee #1, a foreman, was found unresponsive in a new sanitary sewer system. This portion of the system was new and had not been connected to the active sewer system. A laborer entered through a manhole to assist, believing that Employee #1 had fallen into the sewer. The laborer could not escape due to the conditions in the sewer. A third worker used a fan to blow fresh air into the sewer. The laborer was then able to escape. Employee #1 was removed later and pronounced dead of asphyxia at a hospital. Firefighters tested the atmosphere with a four-gas meter and found the oxygen level to be 19.1% after the third worker used the fan. OSHA tested the manhole the next day and the oxygen level had dropped to 16.5%. The oxygen level four days later was 7.7% and the carbon dioxide concentration was 65,000 ppm. OSHA performed additional air testing over several days and oxygen levels were as low as 7.1% and carbon dioxide concentration was as high as 98,000 ppm. The coroner's report stated that Employee #1 died from vitiated air. Soil gases from organic-rich soils likely migrated into the new portion of the sewer system.
Keywords: oxygen deficiency, sewer, unconsciousness, asphyxiated, vapor, confined space, gas, carbon dioxide, toxic fumes, respirator
End Use Proj Type Proj Cost Stories NonBldgHt Fatality
Multi-family dwelling New project or new addition $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 X
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation Construction
1 315916288 Fatality Asphyxia Supervisors, n.e.c. FallDist:
Cause: Excavation
FatCause: Asphyxiation/inhalation of toxic vapor

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