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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 201634599 - Employee Is Burned In Vapor Explosion

Accident: 201634599 -- Report ID: 1054191 -- Event Date: 08/01/2004
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30782863208/05/20042952Herbert Malarkey Roofing Company
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on August 1, 2004, Employee #1 was beginning the process of transferring hot asphalt from a blending tank to a holding tank. The blending tank was nearly filled with hot asphalt which was heated to approximately 385 degrees Fahrenheit. Added into the hot asphalt were styrenic block copolymer pellets are which are known to form flammable hydrocarbons in the presence of heat above 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Employee #1 was standing on an enclosed platform above the tanks and was opening a transfer valve. A flash fire occurred in the blending tank, which had a large top hatch with an unlatched door. He was thrown backwards and struck the transfer pipe. Employee #1 was hospitalized with second-degree burns on both forearms and the left side of his face. One possible ignition source was an elevator lift and chute system that was not grounded and bonded. Another possible ignition source was clumps of un-dissolved pellets that were found conglomerated around the elevator chute entry point due to the upper agitator paddle for the blending tank breaking off several days before the explosion. Per the styrenic block copolymer MSDS, the pellets "contain residual unsaturation which can undergo exothermic oxidative degradation. Accumulation of product in areas exposed to elevated temperatures for extended periods in air may result in self-heating and auto-ignition". A third possible ignition source was the tank transfer valve wheel that was being opened by Employee #1 at the time that the fire occurred. One final factor was the blockage of the tank's vent, which was 90-percent plugged with styrenic pellets, reducing the emergency relief capacity.
Keywords: burn, flammable liquid, unsecured, fire, explosion, hot asphalt, styrene, valve, face, tank
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 307828632 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Occupation not reported

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