Safety & HCM Post

Death and Serious Injury Caused by Sparks from Drilling

A 23-year-old male maintenance employee and an associate were installing steel panels between gun powder hoppers. The gun powder was ignited resulting in an explosion. The explosion resulted in one fatality, one critically injured, and two seriously injured employees.

Two maintenance employees were installing ¼ inch thick steel panels between gun powder hoppers. The panels were approximately 6 ½ feet long by 2 feet wide and were intended for fire propagation prevention.

The victim was using a battery powered drill, not approved for explosive atmospheres, to install bolts and secure the panel. While doing so, gun powder was ignited during the drilling process resulting in a flash fire and explosion.

The building was severely damaged from the explosion, large structural pieces and metal siding was observed lying on the ground more than 50 feet from the building.

Both maintenance employees and two additional employees who were working inside of the facility were sent to the hospital. The victim died later that day at the hospital from massive internal injuries. One employee lost his left eye and two fingers on his left hand. The two other employees received cuts and lacerations from flying debris and shrapnel.

Final Word

The employer was cited for, among other things, not implementing safe operating procedures, not having/implementing written procedures to manage changes, not documenting inspections and tests, and not issuing a hot work permit.

Bongarde Editorial

Bongarde Editorial

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