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Shipyard welder ignites hydraulic fluid and is fatally burned.

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 03OR022, 2003 Oct; :1-8
A 48-year-old shipyard welder was injured and died 62 days later from burns she sustained when her wire fed welder ignited atomized hydraulic oil. She was using a self-propelled elevating work platform (high lift) to weld above her head on a barge undergoing renovation/repairs. Fire investigators theorize that a small pinhead leak developed in the lines while the victim was welding. This leak allowed the pressurized hydraulic oil to escape and atomize into the immediate work area. Sparks from the welding process were the ignition source. There were no eyewitnesses to the incident. However, it is estimated that the victim was exposed to the flames for between 2-4 minutes. Coworkers were successful in extinguishing the fire but the victim sustained burns to (80%) of her body and critical inhalation injuries to her airways and lungs. The victim was airlifted to a local hospital's burn unit where she remained in critical condition until her death. Recommendations: 1. Employers and employees should assure that equipment is appropriate for the task and maintained to manufacturer's specifications. 2. Daily checks of all hydraulic equipment should include inspection of hydraulic hoses and connections. 3. Hydraulic lines should be relocated and protected from physical damage. 4. Check all safety equipment and ensure that it is operational, appropriate for the task and that employees know and understand how to use it. 5. Employers should maintain a current list and copy of MSDS's for the chemicals in use in the work place, and employees should be appropriately equipped and trained for emergency response.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Welders; Welding; Welding-equipment; Welding-industry; Flammable-gases; Flammable-liquids
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-03OR022; 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