It’s a message that can’t be repeated too often to employees who work anywhere near a confined space: Don’t try to be a hero if you’re not trained to be an emergency rescuer.
Three people drowned in a well full of olive mulch in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.
A boy fell into the 13-foot deep pit, and two men dived in to save him.
The deep pool contained thick liquid waste left over from the olive oil pressing process.
Police took the owner of the olive pressing operation into custody for questioning.
In the U.S., “chain-reaction” deaths account for 36% of fatalities in confined spaces.
Chain-reaction deaths are so named because, after the first victim is found in a confined space, a rescuer enters without proper precautions and is overcome, a subsequent rescuer enters and is likewise overcome, and so on.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has several incident reports involving confined space and rescuer deaths in its Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program that can be used for training purposes. They involve many different situations in many types of work:
- Two confined space fatalities during construction of a sewer line
- Two rescuers die in fracturing tank in gas field
- Three sanitation workers and one policeman die in an underground sewage pumping station
- Two employees die after steam line they were repairing was re-energized
- Two metal refinishers die when fumes ignite in elevator car
- Two feedlot workers suffocated in grain bin, and
- Police officer drowns after being overcome by hydrogen sulfide while attempting rescue of construction worker.
And the olive mulch pit case above isn’t the only one involving farming and food production. We recently reported on six people who drowned in a giant vat of fermenting tomatoes.