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The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a 14-minute safety video warning of the hazards of welding and other hot work activities in and around storage tanks containing flammable materials.
Entitled “Dangers of Hot Work,” the video presents key lessons from the CSB’s hot work safety bulletin, released on March 4, 2010, in Wausau, Wis., near the Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) facility where three workers were killed in July 2008 during a hot work-related explosion.
Hot work is defined as burning, welding or similar spark-producing operations that can ignite fires or explosions. Since the release of the CSB hot work safety bulletin last March, there have been at least an additional eleven hot work accidents resulting in five fatalities and 14 hospitalizations. Included in these events is the explosion and fire at the Navajo Refining Company that killed two workers and injured two others in Artesia, New Mexico, where a crew of insulators was reportedly working on a crude oil storage tank.
The video uses 3-D computer animations to depict three hot work accidents at Partridge-Raleigh, an oil production site in Central Mississippi; the Bethune Waste Water Treatment Plant in Daytona Beach, Fla.; and the Motiva Enterprises Refinery in Delaware City, Del.
The video also features an interview with John Capanna, who suffered burns over 90 percent of his body following a hot work accident while he performed maintenance activities at a refinery in New Jersey in 1979.
Capanna warns: “Don’t think that something this tragic couldn’t happen to you or somebody you love. This could happen to anybody.”
Also featured in the video is Casey Jones, the wife of crane operator Clyde Jones, who was fatally burned at the Bethune Waste Water Treatment Plant in January 2006. Mrs. Jones says, “As a wife, I just assumed that he had a normal, everyday 7:00 to 3:30, Monday through Friday job, safe as my job. I would have never dreamed in a million years he would have been killed in an explosion.”
Hot work accidents occur throughout many industries in the U.S., including food processing, pulp and paper manufacturing, oil production, fuel storage, and waste treatment. CSB investigations supervisor Donald Holmstrom states in the video, “We typically hear about hot work accidents weekly. It has become one of the most significant types of incidents the CSB investigates, in terms of deaths, in terms of frequency.”
Emphasizing key lessons from the safety bulletin, Chairman Bresland states, “Hazard assessments and combustible gas detectors should be routinely used to identify and monitor for flammable atmospheres before and during hot work. Effective gas monitoring will save lives.”
The video is available for viewing and downloading on the CSB’s Web site as well as the agency’s YouTube channel. Free DVD’s can be requested by completing the online request from www.csb.gov.
The CSB investigation of the explosion at Packaging Corporation of America remains ongoing; a final report with formal safety recommendations is expected later this year.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA.
For more information, contact the director of public affairs Dr. Daniel Horowitz, 202-261-7613, cell 202-441-6074; Sandy Gilmour, 202-261-7614, cell 202-251-5496, or Hillary Cohen, 202-267-3601, cell 202-446-8094.