Three workers from a private contractor firm died when they climbed into a manhole to investigate why a section of street in Key Largo was not settling properly. Based on reports from responding emergency personnel, the workers were overcome by a toxic atmosphere, which contained hydrogen sulfide and method gas generated by rotted vegetation.A fourth worker and a firefighter responding to assist in rescuing the three victims also suffered effects of the toxic atmosphere and received medical treatment.The first victim removed a manhole cover and went into the 15-foot deep space that was just large enough for a body to enter. The entrant went silent and a second worker entered the manhole in search of his coworker; he too lost consciousness. The third victim climbed into the same manhole and was also overcome by the toxic atmosphere. A fourth worker was treated at the scene by responding firefighters.One of the responding firefighters attempted to rescue the three victims without respiratory protection because he could not fit through the manhole with it. This rescuer was also overcome by the gases inside the manhole. However, another firefighter was able to retrieve him with the help of sheriff’s deputies and he was transported to a hospital for treatment.What can we learn from this tragedy?
- The importance of identifying any confined spaces in which employees will be working, and determining whether any such spaces require a permit to enter (permit spaces).
- Workers must be made aware of the locations and dangers of each permit space.
- Employers must develop and implement a written permit required confined space program to regulate worker entry into permit spaces and control permit space hazards.
- Employers must properly train and equip personnel who work in permit spaces.
- A plan must be developed to rescue entrants who cannot exit the space under their own power. This plan must be developed and rescue resources must be available prior to entry.
- Emergency response personnel need to be provided training, equipment and access to the permit space in order to develop and practice rescue operations.
To learn more about how CORE can help your company with Confined Space Training, call: 888.250.1830