One dead after entering confined space inside tanker

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Confined space

HMN-One man is dead and another injured after a tragic confined space incident.  Federal resources are investigating the incident after the man collapsed shortly after entering the nitrogen blanketed tanker.  Another employee also collapsed after entering the tanker to reach the man. The incident happened in late January. (The Spec)

Federal authorities are investigating the death of a man inside a tanker vehicle.

The industrial incident took place at Toronto Tank Lines at 500 Eastport Dr. at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Hamilton police say one employee entered the tanker and then collapsed, followed by a second employee who went in to check on the first and also collapsed.

Both men were found by another employee and removed after the fire department’s confined space rescue team arrived, said department spokesperson Claudio Mostacci.

The second man is in hospital in stable condition, police say.

The tank, said Mostacci, is reported to have contained canola oil “blanketed” in nitrogen.

A spokesperson for Toronto Tank Lines could not be reached for comment. Its website says the company handles food grade liquids, industrial chemicals and specialty oils and waxes.

Hamilton police referred media inquiries to Employment and Social Development Canada — Labour Program, the agency that is handling the investigation.

But a spokesperson for the department would not comment on the ongoing case.

The investigation is being handled federally because Toronto Tank Lines is a road transportation company that involves crossing provincial or international borders.

The Hamilton Port Authority said it is “deeply saddened by the loss of an employee” of Toronto Tank Lines, a tenant of the port.

The incident brought to mind a January 1997 workplace tragedy at Dofasco in which two men — who worked for a subcontracting company — suffocated at the bottom of a three-storey vacuum degasser tank.

John Hewson, 31, collapsed when he climbed into the tank to clear away some brick debris at the bottom. Robert LaPolice, 26, collapsed when he climbed into the tank to help his co-worker.

Dofasco was later fined $400,000 and the subcontractor was fined $100,000 for violations of health and safety laws.

Work in confined spaces is dangerous because gases or dust can build up and oxygen can be depleted. Workers required to go into storage tanks, boilers, pits, silos and underground vaults face the danger of fire, explosion and suffocation.

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