On December 4, 2013, utility pipefitters had completed a preventive maintenance in a steam pit and were in the process of demobilizing the rescue equipment when an employee fell approximately 9 feet into the manhole after the manhole grating shifted as the employee stepped on it. The manhole was adjacent to the steam pit manhole. Two other employees assisted the employee to get out of the manhole and the employee was taken to the LANL Occupational Medicine Facility. The employee sustained contusions and pain to the legs. Upon investigation it was determined that a bolt that secured the base had broken and thus allowed the manhole encasement to expand and to create a condition in which the grating was able to shift from its mounting position and ultimately fall into the manhole.
Lessons Learned: Conditions and systems can change over time, and failing to adequately inspect work site conditions and systems before starting work may result in a missed opportunity to correct an unsafe condition that could cause a serious or disabling injury. The inclusion of structural systems such as working surfaces/platforms and fixed ladders in pre-job briefs and site inspections prior to work commencement are important to help ascertain safe working conditions of infrastructures or equipment.
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