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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 889949 - Employees Injured In Gas Heat Exchanger Explosion

Accident: 889949 -- Report ID: 0352430 -- Event Date: 09/28/1990
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
10447805210/01/19903312Bethlehem Steel Corporation
At approximately 2:00 p.m. on September 28, 1990, an explosion occurred at the L blast furnace division when the #2 stove gas heat exchanger ruptured. The metal, which was 3/8 in. thick, had rusted away 5/32 in. creating a 2 in. wide split around the 12 ft diameter heat exchange unit. This unit is under a maximum pressure of 55 psi, and includes the blast furnace gas and coke oven gas, which is rated on a half cycle at 1 to 2 psi plus 50 psi of fresh outside air. The blast furnace is run at 110 percent with a temperature between 600 and 2,400 degrees. Employees #1 through #6 were injured due to the gust of air pressure that released, creating a cloud of dust with temperatures of 1,800 to 1,900 degrees. Dirt and dust particles entered the eyes and throats of employees working as far away as 50 ft, causing poor visibility so that some employees were further injured while escaping from this area. The unit was installed in the fall of 1986 by Price Industries, Inc., Energy Transfer and was in operation by January 1987 at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
Keywords: eye, throat, dust, blast furnace, equipment failure, explosion, heat exchanger, high pressure, high temperature, poor visibility
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 104478052 Non Hospitalized injury Bruise/Contus/Abras Crane and tower operators
2 104478052 Non Hospitalized injury Other Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters
3 104478052 Hospitalized injury Other Furnace, kiln and oven operators
4 104478052 Hospitalized injury Foreign Body Ineye Furnace, kiln and oven operators
5 104478052 Non Hospitalized injury Bruise/Contus/Abras Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters
6 104478052 Hospitalized injury Cut/Laceration Furnace, kiln and oven operators

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