Hot work without a gas test-when will people ever learn?

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Another accident has been reported due to negligence and lack of an understanding of hazardous materials and their properties. Fortunately there have been no fatalities, only two injuries, but they are severe and the victims have been hospitalized, reports the Merced Sun Star, in a news item dated April, 02, 2009.

The two injured men were workers in a produce plant (A.V.Thomas Produce, 3900 Sultana Drive, Atwater, Merced County, CA ), who were using an Acetylene blowtorch on a fuel tank. They were trying to loosen a compression bolt on the fuel tank, when it exploded. Common safety procedures apparently were not followed. The tank exploded, causing second- and third-degree burns to 30 and 50 percent of the men’s bodies, according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Lawson. Read the full story here.

It is very clear what caused the explosion. It is not the usage of an acetylene torch or the presence of volatile flammable materials near a naked flame, it was IGNORANCE that caused the explosion. A basic safety training in the hazards of volatile organic compounds like gasoline or diesel would have helped. There was no gas test to detect %LEL near the fuel tank, nor any “hot work” permit system.

When will we ever learn?

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