News Feature | December 22, 2016

Water Workers Recover Inspector's Body From Municipal Tank

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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A water crew in a Massachusetts town recovered the body of a worker who fell in a water tank last week.

The body of David Scott, who died last Thursday while inspecting a municipal water tank in Braintree, “was recovered Friday, after crews worked for hours overnight to pump 1 million gallons of water from the tank,” The Boston Globe reported.

Scott, 47, “was doing a routine inspection of a million-gallon Lincoln Heights tank around 10 a.m. in Braintree [last] Thursday,” the Daily Mail reported.

“The water level inside the tank had been reduced from 62 feet to 3 feet when firefighters entered the tank from hatches near the base to recover the body,” The Patriot Ledger reported.

An intense rescue effort occurred after Scott reported a problem with his air supply, the Globe reported. Officials say a spotter tried to help Scott by jumping in, but he also got trapped in the water, which was dangerously cold, according to the report. The crew called for assistance.

“Two firefighters lifted the spotter from the tank ... a job made more difficult by the cold weather, which quickly froze the water overflowing from the tank,” the report said.

It is not unusual for water tank inspection to occur in the winter. But it is possible for the cold to freeze air lines, although it unclear if that possibility affected this situation, the Globe reported.

“Frederick Laskey, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, said ... divers who perform inspections are typically equipped to work in the cold,” the report said, citing Laskey.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health organized a vigil this week in front of the State House.

“The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun an inspection of TK Potable and Pittsburg Tank & Tower, a Kentucky company that contracted out the work. An OSHA spokesman declined to comment on the inspection, which seeks to uncover any violations of workplace safety standards. TK Potable does not have a history of inspections with OSHA,” the Globe reported.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Labor Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Magnolia water tank, 1950," Seattle Municipal Archives © 1950, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: