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Auto mechanic dies from explosion while welding a barrel in his shop.

Iowa Department of Public Health
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 03IA045, 2004 Aug; :1-5
During the summer of 2003, a 40-year-old male auto mechanic was fatally injured in an explosion at his auto repair shop. His two employees had left about ten minutes earlier, and he was the only one working in the building at the time. He was repairing an old 250 gallon barrel that was used to hold waste motor oil. He had constructed a system to drain used motor oil from cars to the waste oil barrel. This system had an articulated arm made of one-inch steel pipe, an oil pan attached to one end, and an adjustable support rig in the other end. The pipe connected into a bung hole on top of the barrel, and was supported by a bungee cord attached to the vehicle being worked on. Over time, the attachment point of the pipe to the fuel barrel became broken, and the victim was welding this area on the fuel barrel when the explosion occurred. The victim had changed oil on a car earlier that day, and fresh used oil (laden with gasoline fumes) was in the waste oil barrel. Sparks from the welder ignited the fumes in the oil barrel causing it to explode, and it sprayed burning oil all over the shop area and the victim. He was seen running out of the burning building, being himself on fire from head to foot. A neighbor rushed to his aid and covered him with a blanket, and the man was rushed to a local hospital, which immediately transferred him to a regional burn center. The mechanic suffered 3rd degree burns over 90% of his body and inhalation burns, and he died within a few hours. The auto repair shop was completely destroyed by the fire. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Special procedures must be followed when welding containers.
Region-7; 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; Protective-measures; Mechanics; Automobile-repair-shops; Automotive-industry; Burns; Fire-hazards; Fire-safety; Welding; Welding-industry; Welders
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-03IA045; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-708674
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Iowa Department of Public Health
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division