Journeyman pipefitter dies when struck in chest while removing vic fitting end cap from a pressurized pipe.
Michigan State University
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 06MI201, 2007 Oct; :1-10
On December 13, 2006, a 41-year-old male plumber/pipefitter died when he was struck in the chest by a pipe cap that he was removing from a pressurized pipe. Some leaks had been identified in an 8-inch waterline that had been previously installed and which needed to be repaired. To aid in troubleshooting the leak locations, valves were closed off in the lines, creating sectionalized portions of air charged waterline. The waterline was pressurized to 80 psi. After pipe repair was completed, the air was released from the lines, except for a portion "downstream" of a closed valve, which left a section of line still pressurized to 80 psi. At the end of the 8-inch line, there was a vic fitting end cap (also referred to as a victaulic, groove lock or gasketed end cap). The decedent was removing the 25-pound vic fitting end cap from the 8-inch line in the main boiler room in preparation for continuing the waterline project. The metal cap struck the decedent in the neck and upper chest area when it blew off the end of the pipe. Fellow workers called 911. Emergency response arrived, and the decedent was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure that their written accident prevention plan identifies and describes all hazards that could be encountered in the worksite and how to recognize and avoid them. 2. Employers should develop a specific standard operating procedure for pipe pressurization/depressurization including securely tagging appropriate piping and pipe components, such as caps, plugs, valves, etc. 3. Employers should use an end cap that remains attached to the pipe during loosening and prior to removal, or outfit the end cap with a pressure-relieving device. 4. Employers should periodically reinforce skill and safety training.
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