Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Shipfitting


Burns and Shocks: Case History 2


While performing hot work, sparks from the job caught in the frayed edge of an opening in the shipfitter's coveralls.

The threads acted like a candle wick and pulled the fire deeper into the fabric.

The fire quickly spread to other clothing that was underneath the employee's coveralls including a t-shirt made of a synthetic material. When the fire reached the t-shirt, it burned even faster and began to melt onto the shipbuilder's skin.

Co-workers burned their hands while helping to put out the fire. The employee was hospitalized and underwent a painful recovery process.

burned t-shirt
diagram: illustration of hooded welder performing hot work
ripped underarm portion of coveralls
closeup of ripped underarm portion of coveralls

Analysis and Preventive Measures

  • Protective clothing is only as good as its condition. Protective clothing must be intact and without frayed edges.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear to protect yourself. Leather sleeves, for example, are fire retardant.
  • Check your clothing to make sure it is in good condition prior to performing any hot work.
  • Avoid synthetic clothing material due to the increased risk of rapid burning.


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