A fatal explosion in a Massachusetts auto shop was caused by a failure to provide a proper hot work procedure and a general safety program.
On Sept. 25, 2019, a 64-year-old auto mechanic was injured while welding on top of a nearly empty steel drum of flammable washer fluid. As he began to weld, the flammable washer fluid ignited causing an explosion inside the drum.
The explosion covered the mechanic with the burning fluid, causing severe burns. He died from his injuries six weeks later.
Failure to provide welding station contributed to incident
The Massachusetts Fatality Assessment & Control Evaluation (FACE) Program found the key contributing factors in this incident included:
- the worksite lacked a proper welding station
- welding was performed in the vicinity of flammable materials
- there was no safety and health program, and
- there was no overall safety training.
Workers need to be trained on safe use of equipment
To avoid a similar occurrence from happening, the state FACE Program recommended that employers should:
- provide appropriate locations to perform welding work, with all hot work done a safe distance away from flammable and combustible liquids
- ensure workers using welding equipment are trained to use that equipment safely
- ensure that all workers are properly trained on hazardous materials in the workplace
- develop and implement a comprehensive safety and health program that addresses hazard recognition, avoidance of unsafe conditions and proper use of equipment.