Some things are the same all over the world. A tragic case in point – three incidents that came up on our news feed this week of people dying of exposure to toxic gases after entering sewerage systems.
The circumstances of the three cases are quite different. The first case, chronologically speaking, occurred in Portmarnock, Republic of Ireland. Two brothers, with some years’ experience of working with drainage systems, were undertaking what they presumably considered a routine drain repair. One brother entered the drain and collapsed. The second brother tried to rescue him, but also succumbed.
The second accident also involved brothers, this time in Amritsar, Punjab State, India. They were passers-by to an incident in which a sewer worker, overcome by gas, called for help. Heroically, the brothers went to his aid and succumbed to the gases. All three were rescued, but both brothers later died, although the sewerage worker recovered.
The last of our appalling trio of accidents occurred in Hancock County, Ohio, USA. A plumber crawled into a septic tank to conduct some work, collapsed and died before he could be rescued.
All three tragedies resulted from workers entering a sewerage system without taking confined space entry precautions. Toxic gases in these environments are a well-recognised threat. For industry professionals, these procedures should be as ingrained as a reflex reaction. Instead, in many cases the message is not getting through. It leaves us all wondering what is needed to prevent such terrible accidents in the future.