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Massachusetts lead chemical technician dies in explosion during chemical synthesis process.

Massachusetts Department of 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 92MA009, 1993 Jul; :1-5
A 41 year-old male lead chemical technician (victim) died of injuries resulting from a flash explosion of volatile toluene inside a centrifuge. The victim was monitoring the production of sodium phenate. Just prior to the incident, he was peering through a sight glass centered in the steel centrifuge lid when the explosion blew the lid back, striking the victim in the face. The victim was thrown backward into the air and landed on a concrete floor. He was working unobserved at the time of the incident, but employees working one floor below heard the blast and immediately went to investigate. The employees called for help and the victim was transported to the local medical center where he was officially pronounced dead one hour later. The Massachusetts FACE Investigator concluded that to prevent similar occurrences in the future, employers should: 1. Install a device to inform centrifuge operators when the flow of inerting gas is inhibited. 2. Develop, implement, and enforce procedures to ensure that gas lines shut off during repair are operational after repairs are completed. 3. Equip centrifuges with pre-set and/or automatic shut-off mechanisms to stop the flow of slurry once attaining the "fill line" of the centrifuge. 4. Install a lid that is interlocked with the centrifuge drum forming an airtight seal and preventing the drum from spinning if the lid is not locked down. 5. Train employees to ensure environmental safety prior to entry onto an incident site.
Region-1; 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; Training; Centrifugation; Laboratories; Laboratory-equipment; Laboratory-techniques; Laboratory-work; Laboratory-workers; Chemical-indicators; Chemical-industry-workers; Chemical-manufacturing-industry; Chemical-processing; Chemical-reactions
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-92MA009; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-108704
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division