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Worker dies while repairing a vacuum evaporator tank in Virginia, November 11, 1986.
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 87-25, 1987 Feb; :1-5
While a department manager was apparently patching the outside of a 10,000 gallon vacuum evaporator tank containing 10 percent sulfuric- acid (7664939) used in the production of synthetic fibers, the tank imploded, pulling the manager through the 12 by 54 inch opening. The rubber liner in the tank was damaged several months prior to the accident and had not been repaired. The steel wall of the tank had been reduced to a thickness of only 0.13 to 0.21 inches. The tank had been boiled out with caustic soda to remove accumulated scale. Trouble was experienced in getting the tank back on line after cleaning, due to several small holes in the tank which were sealed with sealant putty. The tank was put on line and was operating with 25 inches of vacuum. Suspecting there were still more holes, the department manager went to the tank to find out and was apparently patching on the outside when the tank imploded, pulling him inside. His body was found about an hour later, lying in 12 to 18 inches of acid. Death resulted from chemical burns and skull fractures. Recommendations arising from this accident included implementation of inspections and maintenance programs for all vacuum vessels, conducting of regular safety meetings in each department, assurances that employees are trained in hazard recognition and safety awareness, implementation and enforcement of the established safety program, and implementation of an improved housekeeping program.
NIOSH-Author; Region-3; FACE-87-25; Confined-spaces; Vapors; Toxic-gases; Maintenance-workers; Synthetic-fibers-industry; Accident-analysis
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division