The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted a company after a worker was killed when an oil drum exploded during hot work. The incident occurred when an engineer was converting old oil drums, sourced from elsewhere, into something else. He was cutting open the lids of the drums using a plasma torch. While cutting open the third drum it violently exploded, causing him fatal injuries.
What went wrong?
Investigation revealed that the empty drums, labelled as having contained motor oil, were found to have also previously contained highly flammable gasoline, but had not been labelled correctly. The residual gasoline vapour present within the drums violently ignited upon the action of the hot cutting process, causing fatal injuries. There was a failure to provide any labelling to show that the empty motor oil drums had been repurposed to store gasoline and this created a risk of fire and or explosion.
- Ensure that adequate information and labelling is provided for all used containers, drums or bottles;
- Ensure containers or drums are properly cleaned and de-gassed before conducting hot work on them.
UK HSE press release here.
Members may wish to refer to:
IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding firstname.lastname@example.org to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.
IMCA’s store terms and conditions (https://www.imca-int.com/legal-notices/terms/) apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.
IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.