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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200340875 - Employee Drowns In Manure Slurry Pit

Accident: 200340875 -- Report ID: 0523900 -- Event Date: 10/26/2009
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31317608310/26/20090241Val-O-Mo Farm, Inc.
On October 26, 2009, Employee #1, a 31-year-old male Hispanic dairy farmhand, and Employee #2 were performing a manure cleaning operation. The task was normally conducted by a team of two employees. Employee #2 was manually removing manure from the barn with hand tools. Employee #1 was operating a John Deere skid steer (Model Number 315), with a manure scraping attachment, to push the collected manure from a nonmilk producing heifer cattle barn to an outdoor, uncovered 9,000-cubic yard earthen manure slurry pit. The access to the manure slurry pit was an elevated and unguarded concrete pushoff platform, measuring approximately 15 feet wide by 7.5 feet deep. Employee #1 had instructed Employee #2 to begin hand scraping manure in the calving barn, located to the southeast, while he finished the barn near the manure slurry pit. Approximately 15 minutes later, Employee #2 finished his duties in the calving barn and noticed that he did not hear the skid steer in operation. At approximately the same time, the employer and other farm employees began a search effort to locate Employee #1. The skid steer containing Employee #1 was eventually located, completely submerged below the surface of the manure slurry pit and just beyond the pushoff platform. The employer used a backhoe and a farm tractor to remove the skid steer, which contained Employee #1. The front door of the skid steer was partially open and off its track. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as "immersion drowning." No one witnessed the incident, which occurred at approximately 9:10 a.m. The temperature was in the mid- to low-40-degree F range and the sky was overcast, with no precipitation. The elevated pushoff platform surface was comprised of poured concrete with steel I-beam reinforcement and was substantially covered with manure, resulting in a slippery surface. As a result of manure coverage on the pushoff platform, the visual contrast between the edge of the platform and the surface of the manure slurry pit below was poor. The employer had removed a guardrail at the pushoff point several years earlier. The guardrail was designed to keep the skid steer from accidentally falling off the pushoff platform and into the manure slurry pit. The investigation also revealed that Employee #1 was fatigued, because of the number of hours he worked prior to the incident.
Keywords: platform, asphyxiated, guard, fatigue, pit, skidder, slippery surface, drown, unguarded, poor visibility
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 313176083 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported

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