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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 202363248 - Two Workers Are Blinded By Boiler Flash Fire

Accident: 202363248 -- Report ID: 0352450 -- Event Date: 02/08/2007
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31080594002/09/20076531The Chevy Chase Land Company Of Montgomery County
On February 8, 2007, Employees #1 and #2 were working as industrial engineering technicians for a real estate management firm. They were installing a thermocouple on boiler Number 2 in the boiler room on the penthouse floor of a building. They had removed the defective thermocouple from the boiler and replaced it with a new one. During the procedure, the natural gas supplied to boiler had never been turned off. Further, it had not been locked out or tagged to prevent any gas from being supplied to the boiler. Approximately thirty minutes after initially starting the work, the workers used a gas grill lighter in an attempt to light the pilot at the new thermocouple. They had no success. They then tried to light a second thermocouple, one on which they had not performed any work. The boiler blew up in their faces. A flash fire started inside the boiler and came out of the openings on the bottom side of the boiler, causing first- and second-degree burns to Employees #1 and #2. One employee experienced partial blindness immediately after the explosion, and the other experienced total blindness immediately after the explosion. Both employees were transported by ambulance to George Washington University Hospital in the Northwest part of Washington, DC, where they were admitted for several days for treatment. The employee who experienced the total blindness had eye injuries resulting in temporary damage to the corneas of his eyes. He was using antibiotics, steroids, and special eye drops to try to correct the damage he sustained to his eyes.
Keywords: burn, eye, pilot light, flammable vapors, boiler, natural gas, lockout, flashback
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 310805940 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Industrial engineering technicians
2 310805940 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Industrial engineering technicians

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