Engulfment can cause death by constriction, aspiration and asphyxiation

Safety Meeting Topic
by Will Tom Gray

The capture of a person by a liquid or granular material. engulfment can cause death by constriction, aspiration and asphyxiation.

In many jobsite situations construction and maintenance workers are at risk of becoming engulfed by soil, gravel, sawdust, grain, powder, liquids or any similar finely divided captivating material. Common causes of engulfment are by a cave-in, by falling in or by inadvertent machinery operations.

Cave-ins occur when material shifts or slides under the pressure of gravitational forces. Workers can be trapped underground in trenches or excavations. Trenches and excavations should be properly sloped, benched, or shored in accordance with OSHA 29 CFR 1926. Sub part P. Excavations. Large piles of material stored in open areas should also be sloped, benched or shored.

Entering storage vessels requires special precautions. Material can shift to trap workers against the walls of oversized storage containers. Workers should not climb on, walk on or work near piles of material or enter containers without proper retrieval equipment and trained attendants. Trained rescue personnel should be on standby.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910m Sub Part J outliness the requirements for entering confined spaces. Also see the weekly gang box safety topic, working in confined spaces.

Workers may also be engulfed by falling into open vats, tanks, hoppers, bens, and ponds. Open containers should be equipped with handrails, toe boards and grated walkways. When working over an open container workers should wear a body harnesses either anchored sucurely or with retrieval lines and hoisting equipment.

In any situation where conveyors pumps automatic valves or trap doors can cause the movement of material, A lockout/tagout LOTO procedure should be followed.

The above recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon as totally sufficient. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.