CSB Video Highlights Hot Work Hazards, Safety

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) recently 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.

The “Dangers of Hot Work” video presents key lessons from 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 11 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, N.M., 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 ninety percent of his body following a hot work accident while he performed maintenance activities at a refinery in New Jersey in 1979.

“Don’t think that something this tragic couldn’t happen to you or somebody you love,” Capanna said. “This could happen to anybody.”

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 said 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 and in terms of frequency.”

Emphasizing key lessons from the safety bulletin, CSB Chairman John Bresland said, “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 CSB’s website 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.

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