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Tractor-trailer repairman dies while welding interior wall of a tanker in Indiana, June 9, 1987.

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 87-50, 1987 Jul; :1-6
A 34 year old tractor trailer repairman was killed in an explosion during welding inside a tanker compartment. The victim entered an 8500 gallon cargo tank to weld a leak. The employer was a family firm with nine employees, six of them trailer repairmen. Specific safety regulations for confined spaces were in place at the time of the accident which would have prevented the accident had they been followed. The victim had about 15 years of experience. The tanker had four compartments, and an interior wall required welding. Between compartments was a baffle area to prevent chemicals from mixing. The tanker was steam cleaned for 1 to 1.5 hours to remove chemicals and vapors, in this case, lacquer thinner. Drain holes were opened, but the victim and an assistant were unaware that a drain hole had clogged. After cleaning, the men noticed the clogged drain and cleaned it, but did not resteam the baffle in spite of strong fumes. Compressed air was shot into the drain hole to disperse vapors for about 10 minutes. Strong fumes persisted, but the welder did not use a working explosion meter which was available. The explosion occurred when he began welding. Cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. It is recommended that a comprehensive enforcement and safety review program for confined space operations be instituted. The safety policies of the company should be enlarged to include hazards due to oxygen deficient, flammable/explosive, or toxic environments.
NIOSH-Author; Region-5; FACE-87-50; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Welders; Organic-solvents; Maintenance-workers; Explosive-hazards; Safety-practices
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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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