U.S. Department of Labor
Process: Housekeeping Safety
A welder and a pipefitter were working in the fan room of a vessel under construction when a container of paint thinner ignited.
While the welder was crawling into the fan room to begin work, his welding torch rod came into contact with the container of paint thinner and it exploded. It was determined that the container of thinner had been left open overnight.
Both workers suffered severe burns as a result of this incident.
Analysis and Preventive Measures
Good housekeeping could have protected both the welder and the pipefitter from injury. The container of paint thinner never should have been left out overnight. The employer is responsible for ensuring the safe storage of materials so that they do no create a hazard for workers. Had the following precautions been taken, the incident could have been prevented.
The employer should have:
- Enforced the proper storage of flammable liquids in tanks or closed containers;
- Trained workers to identify potential hazards that can occur in the workplace due to stored materials; and
- Inspected the workspace, at the start and completion of work.