The biggest trending news item on social media over the last month, has been the death of two landfill workers inside a concrete pipe. The accident took place at the Suffolk Landfill in the US.
The entire waste industry will be saddened for the loss to the relatives of the men.
It is not possible at this time to discuss in any meaningful fashion, the cause of this accident, as there does not seem to be any information available as yet, in the media reports we have seen.
What can be said that this report sounds all too familiar, as it may be that these workers have fallen prey to a well known landfill hazard, that being landfill gas or possiby carbon monoxide, which is present in pipes and chambers. The death of two people, and not just one, suggests quite strongly that the problem will have been landfill gas.
When workers enter landfill chambers for maintenance work, it is usual for them to work in pairs. Unfortunately, it has happed all too often for one landfill worker to enter and become asphyxiated and collapse.
His distraught partner then enters himself, thinking he will quickly jump in and save his co-worker, but instead also becomes overcome by the presence of the gas. This is a natural way for the co-worker to react, but sadly in the past such heroism has so often simply resulted in a second, death – or even a third death, when others are also present at the time.
It is too early to say whether our suspicions are correct, but the landfill operator will need to improve operational training for all their landfill workers. These accidents are all avoidable with proper safety training and awareness.
Below we provide excerpts from the articles to which we refer:
2 workers dead after becoming trapped inside concrete pipe at Suffolk landfill (US)
Two workers died Tuesday after getting trapped inside a vertical concrete pipe at the John C. Holland landfill, according to a city spokeswoman.
The landfill employees were identified as Eric O’Brien Williams, 35, of Portsmouth and Stephen Louis Wilk, 60, of Moyock, N.C.
What exactly happened at the privately owned landfill remains unclear. City spokeswoman Diana Klink said she did not know, but the Suffolk Police Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.
The cause of death wasn’t known, she added.
A man in a truck outside the landfill’s office who identified himself as “the person in charge right now” declined to comment.
According to Klink, the men were trapped inside a vertical concrete pipe, or culvert, that was 20 feet deep and 3 feet wide.
Technical rescue crews from Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake responded to the 70-acre landfill, which was cited for another worker’s death in 2000.
Klink said rescue workers needed four-wheel-drive vehicles to reach the scene.
Family members of at least one of the victims gathered Tuesday afternoon at a church about a half-mile away. They met with police and paramedics. Several were crying.
A Suffolk detective said the family didn’t want to talk to reporters. via Workers trapped
Two men die after being trapped at Suffolk landfill
Emergency crews were called to the 4800 block of Nansemond Parkway shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Crews used rope and harness equipment in an attempt to rescue the men, who were employees of the landfill.
The pipe where the men were trapped was 20 feet deep and three feet wide.
The victims have been identified as Eric O’Brien Williams of Portsmouth and Stephen L. Wilk of Moyock.
Due to the landfill being 70-acres, 4-wheel drive vehicles had to be used to transport crews and their equipment.
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