Confined space hazards know no borders.
Less than two weeks after three workers died in a confined space in Florida, four workers died from atmospheric hazards while preparing to clean a sewage pit at a Bangkok market on Thursday. The same story-just a different country.
The incident occurred in a Bangkok marker area where workers were about to carry out maintenance on a 3 meter deep sewage pit. The first worker opened the cover, leaned over, and likely was overcome by the atmospheric hazard and fell into the space. A second worker entered in an attempt to save the first worker. A third worker entered and also became non-responsive. His brother proceeded to enter to try to save him, making him the fourth victim.
A team of rescue workers arrived on scene and assumed that four men had been electrocuted while cleaning the pit. After turning off the power to the entire market, one rescue worker proceeded to enter the space on a rope but without a proper respirator such as an airline respirator or an SCBA. The rescue worker passed out but fortunately was pulled to safety using the rope. Without that rope, he likely would have become victim number 5.
This first fatality that started this incident began before the first worker had even entered the space. NFPA 350 Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work discusses "adjacent space" hazards that occur in the vicinity of confined spaces and provides safe practices to prevent incidents such as this from occurring.
Note- these recent tragedies have authorities across the country looking to NFPA to learn more about the codes, standards and safety practices related to confined space entry. NFPA offers an online confined space training series for those that design, work in, or supervise a facility that has one or more confined spaces. Content is ideal for facility managers, risk managers, safety directors, architects, engineers, industrial hygienists, construction workers, and technicians.