It’s a Dirty Job and Someone Died Doing It

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: June 14th, 2016
Topics: OSHA Inspections | PPE |

If you work on a farm, manure happens. Loading manure onto a trailer would be few workers’ idea of fun, but would it surprise you to know it can also be deadly?

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that a 31-year-old worker was fatally overcome by exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas from the pig manure he was loading onto trailers for use as fertilizer.

Federal investigators determined that the man’s death, which occurred in the Vickery, OH, area, was caused by inhalation of the gas, which is rapidly absorbed by the lungs.

“Symptoms from overexposure to hydrogen sulfide gas can come on rapidly and quickly overcome a worker,” says Kim Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Toledo, OH. “The agriculture industry needs to educate its employees that the foul odors that come with manure spreading are not just unpleasant—they are unsafe and can be deadly. It is imperative that farm workers are protected from inhaling these gases.”

OSHA cited W.E. Soil Enhancement for three serious violations carrying $16,800 in proposed fines. They include failure to:

  • Provide engineering controls and respiratory protection to protect workers from exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas.
  • Develop a hazard communication program and train workers on it.
  • Identify and evaluate respiratory hazards.

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