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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 202357000 - Employee Is Killed In Explosion

Accident: 202357000 -- Report ID: 0352430 -- Event Date: 05/21/2005
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30868718505/23/20051795William Womack D/B/A Womack Company
At approximately 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on May 21, 2005, Employee #1 and a coworker were cutting and burning various tanks into steel sections to be removed. The cutting and burning was taking place in a two basement areas. As each tank was cut into sections, the sections were brought up from the basement areas and the remaining cut debris were placed in the outside driveway. Employee #1 and his coworker were told that various tanks had flammable liquids and residues inside them and were instructed that they needed to be careful and follow proper burning and cutting procedures. The employees completed dismantling two 2,500 gallon tanks to the base of the tanks. In one of the lower levels of the basement area, there were tanks of various sizes that consisted of a 5,000 gallon polyurethane tank; a 5,000 gallon oil tank with 1,000 gallons of oil remaining in it; six tanks that were 6 feet in diameter and 20-feet long; and two tanks containing mineral spirits and raw linseed oil residue. Employee #1 was located in this area, about 25 feet from the 2, 500 gallon tanks that were previously cut, cutting and burning an empty metal tank that measured 20-feet long by 6 feet in diameter. It was speculated that when Employee #1 finished cutting the end of the tank or was almost finished cutting, fumes from the two 2,500 gallon tanks released into the air and accumulated near the concrete floor of the shop. A spark occurred from possibly a gush of hot air; heat from the cutting and burning; or the end of the tank hit the concrete floor, causing an explosion to occur. The fire blew both easterly and westerly in the basement area and went straight up the stairway. Some areas were damaged worse than other areas. The coworker was able to escape the explosion and fire and ran to get help; however, Employee #1 was killed due to receiving second and third degree burns over greater than 90 percent of his body. Additionally, he had contusions and abrasions to the front of his body; lacerations to his liver; a broken rib; and a contusion to his small bowel. An accident investigation revealed that the fire started in the center storage area in the second lower basement area. Employee #1's body was found about 50 feet from the center area of the second basement area. It was speculated that he was struck by something during the explosion (possibly the end of the tank that he was cutting on); or the force of the explosion blew him into something. Numerous safety standards were not being followed which led to the accident; no safety and health program; no on site inspections of the work while it was taking place; employees were not trained to recognize unsafe conditions; cutting and burning on flammable materials or with flammable compounds was allowed; tanks and drums that were to be cut and burned were not filled with water; and an opening and/or a vent was not created in the tanks prior to cutting and burning operations.
Keywords: burn, confined space, flammable liquid, flammable vapors, explosion, laceration, struck by, contusion, cutting and burning
End Use Proj Type Proj Cost Stories NonBldgHt Fatality
Other building Other Under $50,000 2 X
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation Construction
1 308687185 Fatality Burn/Scald(Heat) Construction trades, n.e.c. FallDist:
Cause: Demolition
FatCause: Fire/explosion

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