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Young camp counselor killed when cannon bursts to pieces.

Oregon Department of Human Services
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 03OR020, 2003 Sep; :1-8
On August 1, 2003, a 16-year-old youth working as a camp counselor was fatally injured when a cannon he was attempting to fire exploded and burst into pieces. This cannon had been used during evening flag ceremonies at the camp for about three years. On the evening of the incident, the victim set up the cannon as instructed and attempted to fire it during the flag ceremony, but the wind twice extinguished the touch stick used to fire the cannon. After the second attempt failed, the ceremony proceeded without the cannon, and everyone retired for the evening meal. The victim and another youth working as a counselor remained at the site to see why the cannon did not fire. They added a small amount of black powder to the touchhole and again attempted to fire the cannon. This time the cannon fired, and the explosion caused the cannon's breech to burst into pieces. One fragment struck the victim in the head, fatally injuring him. Recommendations: 1. Develop written procedures to ensure the cannon is charged and fired by trained and knowledgeable persons, within the manufacturer's operational specifications, and with specific misfire procedures. 2. Adult counselors should conduct the firing of black-powder cannons used at youth camps. 3. Youth should not be employed in positions that include the use or handling of explosive materials. 4. Use only solid steel or seamless steel-lined cast-iron cannons to fire black-powder charges. 5. Do not obstruct the bore when firing for ceremonial salutes. 6. Use the appropriate grade and quantity of black powder as designated for the cannon. 7. Inspect the gun tube regularly to detect signs of stress. 8. Periodically review processes to ensure continuing adherence to safe work practices.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Age-factors; Blasting-agents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Brain-damage
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-03OR020; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-021204; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008324
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Oregon Department of Human Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division