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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Incident Investigation—Confined space work

The situation

A large concrete water tank’s pipes were leaking.

The accident

  • • 
    A maintenance worker was using a petrol-driven concrete cutting saw to repair the pipes.
  • • 
    While working inside the tank he became dizzy and nauseous.

The injuries

  • • 
    While working in the tank he suffered blurred vision, headaches, dizziness and nausea.
  • • 
    The symptoms persisted after leaving work.
  • • 
    Later that night he was admitted to hospital where tests indicated a raised level of carbon monoxide in his blood.

The causes

  • • 
    The concrete cutting saw the worker was operating was not designed for use in such a confined space.
  • • 
    The device was clearly labelled on the top with a warning that the operator should be familiar with the instruction manual and that personal protective equipment must be worn – including breathing apparatus.
  • • 
    The instruction manual clearly stated that using the cutter in a confined or badly ventilated area could result in death due to asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The lessons

  • • 
    This incident reinforces the importance of managing and understanding the hazard of working in a confined space.
  • • 
    The factsheet Carbon Monoxide: Invisible and Deadly is available to download for free on the MBIE Labour website.
  • • 
    The identification of carbon monoxide as a significant hazard in such a confined space should have led to the consideration of a safer alternative such as a pneumatic or electric powered tool to complete the work.

Thomson Reuters

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