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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 42439.015 - Employee Falls Into Heated Gas Duct And Is Killed

Accident: 42439.015 -- Report ID: 0316400 -- Event Date: 03/20/2013
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
896637.01503/20/2013Burnham Industrial Contractors, Inc.
At 8:45 a.m. on March 20, 2013, Employee #1 and Coworker #1, employed by an insu lation contractor, were working at a power plant. They were cleaning up leftove r debris after removing old insulation from the top of a large indoor metal duct . The duct sent heated boiler gases from the power generation portion of the po wer plant to the precipitators. The two employees were walking on steel girders and metal planks because the surface of the duct was too thin to support their weight. They were wearing full body harnesses attached to retractable lifelines as they moved across the top of the duct. Their lifelines were anchored to ste el beams. However, the tie off point was only 4.5 feet above the duct surface. Coworker #1 left to get additional tools for the work. When he returned a few minutes later he discovered Employee #1 wedged down in the duct with one leg and his head protruding from a hole in the duct. The environment in the duct was l ethal due to the heated gases, which during the subsequent investigation were de termined to have been 292 degrees Fahrenheit. Coworker #1 tried to pull Employe e #1 out of the hole and keep his head above the duct. Coworker #1 yelled for h elp, but he was not heard over the loud noise of the operation. Coworker #1 eve ntually let go of Employee #1 and went for help. When emergency responders arri ved, Employee #1 had slipped fully into the duct. Personnel turned off power to the unit, but it took several minutes for the fan to wind down. By this time E mployee #1 was unresponsive and was determined by the emergency responders to ha ve asphyxiated due to thermal stress to the lungs and brain.
Keywords: asphyxiated, caught in, cleaning, confined space, construction, duct, fall, fall protection, heat, toxic atmosphere
End Use Proj Type Proj Cost Stories NonBldgHt Fatality
Powerplant Maintenance or repair   10 X
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation Construction
1 896637.015 57 M Fatality Insulation Workers FallDist:
Cause: Interior plumbing, ducting, electrical work

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