A 50-year-old male was killed when he fell from the top of a 12-foot high oil tank. The victim was an oil gauger for a company that transports crude oil. His job was to obtain samples of the oil to check its quality. On the day of the incident he was to check the oil at a site located about 100 miles from his office. He was an experienced gauger and had been to this site many times before. This company owned four cylinder-shaped oil tanks. Three of the tanks were 15 feet high and one was 12 feet high with a diameter of 8 feet; each tank had a ladder welded to the side. There were no guardrails or other safety devices on the tops of the tanks, and the victim was not using any fall protection equipment. As was his usual practice, the victim was working alone and had ascended the ladder of the 12-foot tank to take a sample of oil through a 12-inch opening on the top of the tank. The owner of the company, who had been indoors while the victim was working, went outside and found him lying on the ground beside the tank. Although there were no witnesses to the fatal incident, evidence of fresh oil on the bottom of one of his boots and an oil smear on the top of the tank suggest that he slipped on the oily residue, lost his balance and fell. Upon finding the victim the owner called 911. Rescue personnel arrived within five minutes. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology results later revealed that the victim had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17.
In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring, FACE investigators recommend:
- Employers should follow the OSHA guidelines for personal protective equipment
- Sites should be equipped with safety devices such as nonskid surfaces and railings on top of the tanks, and the surfaces on top should be kept free of oily residue
- Employers should develop, implement, and enforce a written safety program which includes worker training in recognizing, avoiding and abating hazards in the workplace
- Workers should refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages while on the job, as it may hinder judgment, affect balance and thus contribute to injury
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, "Worker Killed in Fall from Oil Tank" (1996). Fatality Case Reports--Falls. 17.