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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 992545 - Three Employees Injured By Drum Explosion

Accident: 992545 -- Report ID: 0253680 -- Event Date: 07/09/1990
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
10492856907/11/19909223Nysdocs Bare Hill Correctional Facility

The facility used empty 55-gallon drums to collect scrap metal pieces from the inmates' metal shop. When available drums were filled, Employees #1 and #2 cut off the lids, emptied the scrap metal into a truck, and resealed drums for continued use. Employee #3, a corrections officer, was present because two inmates were assigned to work in the area. The inmates were not involved in this work and were approximately 40 feet away outside, behind the facility power house. Employee #1 had removed the lids from three drums successfully using an oxy-acetylene torch. When he put the torch to the rim of the fourth drum, its lid immediately blew off. Employee #1 was bending over the drum; Employee #2 was 2 to 3 ft to his right and Employee #3 was 2 to 3 ft to his left. Employee #1 was hit directly in the face by the lid, sustaining serious facial injuries. Employee #2 suffered a burning sensation in his eyes and pain in his ears. Employee #3 sustained a blow to his right leg and knee, possibly from the torch that was blown out of Employee #1's grasp by the explosion, and spattering burns and cuts on his right arm from the drum's contents. Employee #1 was hospitalized immediately in Malone Hospital and then transported to Plattsburgh Hospital. His facial bones and eye socket were rebuilt, a steel plate was put into his cheek and jaw area, and his face was "wired up." The extent of injury to his eyes and optic nerves were not known as of July 12, 1990, although he was able to distinguish light and dark with each eye. He was unable to be interviewed. Employee #2 was not hospitalized, but is under doctor's care for continuing earaches and headaches. Employee #3 was not hospitalized but is under doctor's care for a blow to the leg. He had not returned to work as of July 12, 1990 and was not interviewed. Employee #2, who was interviewed, stated they all knew of the dangers inherent in paint and the probability of lingering fumes and paint residue in drum, but "just didn't think" of the reaction when the torch sparked the drum's contents. Employee #1 was wearing safety goggles and a mask; their imprint was found on the drum lid. Both Employees #1 and #2 are trained welders and consider occasional welding a normal job duty. They had also been trained on hazardous materials.

Keywords: eye, acetylene torch, flammable vapors, work rules, drum, welder, ear, face, cutting and burning, leg

Employee Details
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 104928569 Hospitalized injury Fracture Stationary engineers
2 104928569 Non Hospitalized injury Bruise/Contus/Abras Correctional institution officers
3 104928569 Non Hospitalized injury Hearing Loss Stationary engineers

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