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Painter dies from burns received from explosion inside tank, May 16, 1989.

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 89-38, 1990 Jan; :1-6
A 41 year old male painter suffered burn injuries and died 5 days later from an explosion which occurred while he was painting the inside of a 1300 gallon tank. A 32 year old male painter stationed outside the tank suffered burns and a broken arm. The employer was a sheet metal fabrication company with 30 employees which had been in business for 20 years. The company had a management level employee who served as the safety officer on a collateral duty basis. On the day of the incident the victim and coworker were painting the inside of a recently fabricated 1300 gallon steel tank, measuring 68 inches high, 75 inches in diameter and standing vertically with a 22 inch diameter manway opening on the top. The victim entered the tank wearing a supplied air respirator. A 500 watt nonexplosion proof halogen lamp was hung over the manway opening. The coworker, wearing a dust/mist respirator, sat on top of the next tank to observe the victim. The victim was using an airless spray gun. After completing some of the sides, he began to work on the top when the spray gun nozzle hit the lamp, breaking the sealed beam which ignited the epoxy vapor causing a flash fire explosion. The victim suffered second and third degree burn on 40% of his body; the coworker suffered first and second degree burns over 12% of his body plus a broken arm. The victim died from respiratory burn complications 5 days after the accident. It was noted that a different type of respirator should have been worn, that nonflammable paints should to be used for coating the inside of tanks, and that explosion proof lighting fixtures should be used in and near flammable atmospheres.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-89-38; Region-4; Painters; Epoxy-compounds; Explosive-hazards; Explosive-gases; Explosive-atmospheres; Accident-analysis; Safety-practices; Spray-painting
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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