An Investigation of two deaths in confined space from artesian well, Bang Khan District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, March 2020
Keywords:investigation, confined space, death, artesian well, hypoxia
Background: The Situation Awareness Team (SAT), Department of Disease Control, was notified by the Office of Disease Prevention and Control 11 Nakhon Si Thammarat (ODPC11) on March 7th, 2020 that two workers died after dredging mud in the artesian well in Bang Khan District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. Division of Occupational and Environmental Diseases, the ODPC11 and Nakhon Si Thammarat Public Health Office jointly investigated on 12th March 2020. The objectives were to verify diagnosis, describe the incident, to identify the potential risk and to provide control measures to prevent further fatalities. Methods: We reviewed medical records and forensics records and interviewed the witnesses and doctors. We surveyed at incident scene and measured gases such as oxygen, carbonmonoxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane at the incident and nearby wells. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as percentage, average. The oxygen and other toxic volume measurement and various toxic gases were described as a percentage by volume (% by volume) and a part of a million (ppm), respectively. Results: We found five people who exposed to the well, resulting in two deaths (attack rate 40%). The first death was the worker who was employed for dredging the well and the second death was rescuer. Both of them were not wear personal protection equipment for working in confined space. The causes of the first and second death were hypoxia and drowning, respectively. We detected that the level of oxygen is below the standard and no other toxic gases were found. Conclusions and discussions: The fatalities were suspected death in the confined space. Causes of deaths were likely due to the hypoxia. Lack of personal protective equipment and delayed assistance due to lack of rescue equipment are critical issues. Therefore, measures should be emphasized on awareness and preparing rescue equipment before working in a confined space.
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