Co-Worker Fatalities from Hydrogen Sulfide

Robert G. Hendrickson, Arthur Chang, Richard J. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Background: Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, odorless gas that may cause rapid loss of consciousness and respiratory depression without warning. It has produced toxicity in workers in numerous industries and occupations. Methods: A review of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for occupational deaths related to hydrogen sulfide from 1993 to 1999 was performed. Results: Fifty-two workers died of hydrogen sulfide toxicity in this 7-year period. Deaths were most commonly reported in workers who were white (85%), male (98%), and in their first year of employment with the company (48%). Common industries included waste management, petroleum, and natural gas. In 21% of cases, a co-worker died simultaneously or in the attempt to save the workers. Conclusions: Hydrogen sulfide toxicity is uncommon, but potentially deadly. Toxicity is predominantly in new workers and co-worker fatalities occur in a significant minority of cases. Proper training and education on the warning signs of hydrogen sulfide toxicity may help reduce worker fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)346-350
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Mortality
  • Occupational diseases
  • Overdose
  • Poisoning
  • Toxicity
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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