A temporary laborer, was working inside port tank #1 of barge moored at a dock, scooping rust into buckets until approximately 12:00 a.m. A confined space entry permit was prepared and tested by the foreman-in-training when the work shift began at approximately 5:00 p.m.
When the workers switched positions after their lunch break, the laborer was transporting the rust in 2.5-gallon buckets from the barge to a container on the dock. The laborer dropped one of the buckets while walking on top of the starboard wing void after emptying the buckets on the dock. Employee #1 attempted to prevent the bucket from rolling off the wing void, when his left leg slipped off the side of the barge, striking his head on the barge deck. It is believed that the laborer was unconscious when he fell approximately 10 feet into the water. A coworker stated that he ran from the barge to the dock apron and threw a life ring into the water, but the laborer slipped below the surface and was no longer visible. A dive team recovered the laborer’s body in approximately eight feet of water.
What went wrong? The laborer was not wearing a flotation device. If he had worn a flotation device, as required by law for working on a vessel over water, he would stayed afloat long enough to be rescued and receive medical treatment.