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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident Summary Nr: 201075611 - Propane Gas Worker Is Burned In Gas Burn-Off

Accident Summary Nr: 201075611 -- Report ID: 0950632 -- Event Date: 08/16/2010
Inspection NrDate OpenedSICNAICSEstablishment Name
31268385708/17/20105171454312Heritage Propane Svcs Corp Dba Pro Flame Of Ramona

Abstract: Employee #1 was working for a propane services company as a mechanic. He was lighting a propane gas and vapor burn-off tower using an extended-reach-type of lighting device. The burn-off tower was a shop-built device manufactured using schedule 80 pipe and fittings. The tower was equipped with a propane gas orifice. The propane gas supply hose, connection fittings, and valves were designed and approved for propane gas use. The investigation found the following: On the day previous to the accident, Employee #1 used the burn tower to burn off propane vapors from an old customer-owned propane tank that required repairs. It was believed by the employer that an ethyl mercaptan oil residue had accumulated in the customer's propane tank from the years of use and filling. It was believed by the employer that small amounts of ethyl mercaptan oil residue from the customer's propane tank had accumulated in the transfer hose as the propane vapors from the tank were burned off. The transfer hose was used to transfer the propane vapor from the propane tank to the burn tower. At the time of the accident, Employee #1 had connected the transfer hose to a company-owned propane tank and the burn tower. The burn tower was being used to burn off propane vapors from the company propane tank so that repairs could be made to that tank. The burn tower was 87 inches tall. The gas transfer hose and the self-closing valve were connected to the burn tower approximately 12 inches above the ground. Employee #1 was using an Olympian GM 3X continuous ignition flexible butane lighter to light the burn tower. The Olympian GM 3X continuous ignition flexible butane lighter had a 15-inch flexible extension nozzle. The total length of the lighter was 26 inches. Employee #1 was positioned holding the lighter at the burn tower nozzle with one hand. At the same time, he was opening the propane gas valve at the bottom of the burn tower with the other hand. Employee #1 was looking at the top of the tower when the gas ignited. Employee #1 stated that when the gas in the nozzle of the burn tower was ignited, the flame looked like sparklers. Employee #1 released the gas valve handle, causing the gas valve, a self-closing valve, to close, extinguishing the flame. Employee #1 felt the burning sparkler material land on his head and shoulder, and his shirt caught on fire. A coworker observed Employee #1's hair and back on fire. The coworker tackled Employee #1 and rolled him over in a puddle of water to put out the fire. A water hose was also used by others present to further extinguish the fire. Employee #1 was hospitalized.

Keywords: burn, clothing, maintenance, flammable vapors, fire, back, propane, spark

Employee Details
Employee # Inspection Nr Age Sex Degree Nature of Injury Occupation
1 312683857 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Heating, air conditioning, and refrig. mechanics

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