A review of 4756 deaths investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1984-6 found 233 deaths from asphyxiation and poisoning, excluding asphyxiations from trench cave-ins. The highest rates were in the oil and gas industry and in utilities. Toxic gases were the largest group (65) followed by simple asphyxiants (48), mechanical causes (42), and solvents (35). Deaths from solvents were significantly more likely in young workers. Nine deaths were caused by improper air supply to respirators and five by recreational inhalation of gas or vapours. Of the 146 deaths in confined spaces, only 12% were in rescuers, fewer than previously reported.
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