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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 774158 - One Employee Killed, One Injured When Asphyxiated By Argon

Accident: 774158 -- Report ID: 0625400 -- Event Date: 06/08/1992
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
12342265106/09/19923728Hta Aerostructures, Inc.
On June 5, 1992, a leak was detected on the top of the high vacuum valve of a diffusion pump. The furnace system became back-filled with argon to atmospheric conditions. On June 8, 1992, Employees #1 and #2, maintenance personnel, were repairing the leak. Employee #1 climbed on the diffusion pump to clean the vacuum valve seat, which is about 32 in. below the flange opening. (The diffusion pump is 35 in. in diameter and 9 ft tall.) Employee #2 was on the ground cleaning parts. After approximately 10 minutes, Employee #2 climbed to the platform to get a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. He noticed that Employee #1 was inside the diffusion pump, overcome. Employee #2 called for help and then climbed inside the diffusion pump without a respirator or rescue equipment. He was also overcome. Employees #1 and #2 were asphyxiated and required hospitalization. Employee #1 died on June 10, 1992. The bottom lid of the furnace had not been dropped to dissipate the argon.
Keywords: leak, asphyxiated, repair, confined space, toxic atmosphere, equipment failure, scba, pump, argon
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 123422651 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported
2 123422651 Hospitalized injury Asphyxia Occupation not reported

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