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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 653634 - One Employee Killed, Two Injured When Freezer Explodes

Accident: 653634 -- Report ID: 0111400 -- Event Date: 12/26/1989
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
10280946412/27/19892024Mccarthy Brothers Ice Cream Company, Incorporated
On December 26, 1989, Employee #1 was attempting to replace a leaking oil valve on a minus 30-degree freezer when a tank inside the freezer exploded. The company uses anhydrous ammonia to manufacture ice cream. The liquid ice cream mixture (at 50 degrees) is added to the tank. When the liquid ammonia changes to a gas, the liquid ice cream mixture becomes solid. As the ammonia gas pressure builds up inside the tank, it is sucked out in a suction line and directed through the system. This freezer was down for seven days and the oil inside the tank had congealed. Normal weekly maintenance requires the removal of used oil through the oil valve. Employee #1 closed all valve lines and used steam to loosen the thick oil. The steam caused pressure to build up inside the tank and with no relief valve, the tank exploded. When the tank exploded, Employee #1 was killed. Employee #2 was approximately 10 feet away and was hospitalized with burns to his eyes. Employee #3 was in an adjacent room and was injured when he inhaled the ammonia vapors.
Keywords: burn, eye, lung, maintenance, shock, ammonia, explosion, toxic fumes, freezer compartment, pressure release
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 102809464 Hospitalized injury Burn(Chemical) Occupation not reported
2 102809464 Non Hospitalized injury Other Occupation not reported
3 102809464 Fatality Other Occupation not reported

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