CSB Releases New Safety Video on Fatal Hot Work Explosion at DuPont Facility in Buffalo
Vol. 27 Summer 2012
Washington DC, April 20, 2012 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released a new safety video detailing a fatal 2010 hot work accident that occurred at the DuPont facility near Buffalo, New York.
The video, entitled “Hot Work: Hidden Hazards” features a computer animation showing how hot work being conducted on top of a tank led to a deadly explosion that killed one contractor and injured another.
CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “This is another in our series of safety videos in wide use in industry throughout the world; our hope is that this dramatic depiction will result in greater emphasis in safety during hot work activities like welding and grinding.”
In the video, Dr. Moure-Eraso notes that, “The tragic explosion at the DuPont facility exposed weaknesses in how process hazards were analyzed and controlled. The result was the death of a welder in a preventable hot work accident.” In the video Chairperson Moure-Eraso emphasizes that hot work is often seen as a routine activity, but it can prove deadly if fire and explosion hazards are overlooked.”
The 11-minute video details the events leading up to the accident noting that although DuPont personnel monitored the atmosphere above the tank, no monitoring was done to see if any flammable vapor was inside the tank. The CSB investigation found the hot work ignited the vapor as a result of the increased temperature of the metal tank, sparks falling into the tank, or vapor wafting from the tank into the hot work area. The welder died instantly from blunt force trauma, and a foreman received first-degree burns and minor injuries.
CSB Investigator Mark Wingard says in the video, “We found that the contractors did obtain hot work permits for welding, but those permits were authorized by DuPont employees who were unfamiliar with the specific hazards of the process and did not require testing the atmosphere inside the tanks.”
The CSB released its final report and formal safety recommendation at a news conference and public meeting in Buffalo on April 19.
The video is available to stream or download on www.CSB.gov and may be viewed on the CSB’s YouTube channel, USCSB (www.youtube.com/uscsb).
The CSB’s safety videos continue to garner awards, including three recent Peer Awards given by the Television, Internet & Video Association of Washington, DC in November 2011.
“The CSB video program was specifically cited when the CSB was named the 2008 recipient of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Howard Fawcett Award, honoring “outstanding contributions in the field of chemical health and safety,” marking the first time the 25-year-old award has been presented to an entire organization.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.