SafeWork NSW is investigating the death of a man on a Dyraaba property.
SafeWork NSW is investigating the death of a man on a Dyraaba property. Rob Wright/The Coffs Coast Advoc

Water tank death sparks warning about confined spaces

WORKERS have been urged to avoid confined spaces where possible after a death on a Northern Rivers property.

Emergency services were called to a Dyraaba property after a man was found unconscious inside a water tank last Tuesday.

He had been working on the tank at the time and was engaged by the tenants to do so.

A SafeWork NSW spokesman confirmed they were investigating after a 58-year-old man who was working on the Sextonville Rd property.

"Initial inquiries indicate the man was repairing a damaged water tank on the property when he became overcome by fumes and was unable to be revived,” the spokesman said.

"SafeWork NSW's investigation is ongoing.”

He said SafeWork NSW recommended farmers and those working on properties work outside of confined spaces where possible and "design it so that there is no need to enter”.

"However, where it is necessary to work in a confined space, farmers and farm workers should identify and assess the risks,” he said.

"Never use petrol driven generators, water blasters or other similar equipment in a confined space that create atmospheric risks.”

He said those working in confined spaces should regularly clean the air space and keep it well ventilated, purge any contaminants and carry out atmospheric testing before entering.

"If it is not possible to keep safe oxygen levels, use an appropriate respirator,” he said.

"A stand-by person must continuously monitor the conditions inside the water tank from outside and, where they can, observe the work being carried out.

"They must be trained to recognise warning signs, be able to order workers out, communicate with them at all times and respond to an emergency if necessary.

"If a worker does collapse in the water tank, the stand-by person should never enter the tank to attempt a rescue as this creates the risk of an extra casualty.

"Emergency and rescue procedures should also be developed.”



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