A 14-minute safety video from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) describes hazards of welding and other hot work activities in and around storage tanks containing flammable materials.

“Dangers of Hot Work” video presents key lessons from the CSB’s recently released hot work safety bulletin. The bulletin includes seven key lessons to prevent worker deaths during hot work in and around tanks, and was prompted in part by an incident at Packaging Corp. of America (PCA), Tomahawk, Wis., where three workers were killed in July 2008 during a hot work-related explosion.

Hot work is defined as burning, welding or similar spark-producing operations that can ignite fires or explosions. Since the release of the CSB hot work safety bulletin in March 2010, there have been at least an additional eleven hot work accidents resulting in five fatalities and 14 hospitalizations, according to the agency. Included in these events is the explosion and fire at the Navajo Refining Co. that killed two workers and injured two others in Artesia, N.M., where a crew of insulators was reportedly working on a crude oil storage tank.

 The video uses 3-D computer animations to depict three hot work accidents at Partridge-Raleigh, an oil production site in central Mississippi; the Bethune Waste Water Treatment Plant in Daytona Beach, Fla.; and the Motiva Enterprises Refinery in Delaware City, Del.

The video also includes an interview with John Capanna, who suffered burns over ninety percent of his body following a hot work accident while he performed maintenance activities at a refinery in New Jersey in 1979. Mr. Capanna warns, “Don’t think that something this tragic couldn’t happen to you or somebody you love. This could happen to anybody.”

Also appearing in the video is Casey Jones, the wife of crane operator Clyde Jones, who was fatally burned at the Bethune plant in January 2006. Mrs. Jones says, “As a wife, I just assumed that he had a normal, everyday 7:00 to 3:30, Monday through Friday job, safe as my job. I would have never dreamed in a million years he would have been killed in an explosion.”

Hot work accidents occur throughout many industries, including food processing, pulp and paper manufacturing, oil production, fuel storage and waste treatment. “We typically hear about hot work accidents weekly. It has become one of the most significant types of incidents the CSB investigates, in terms of deaths, in terms of frequency,” notes Donald Holmstrom, a CSB investigations supervisor, in the video.

Emphasizing key lessons from the safety bulletin, CSB Chairman Bresland states, “Hazard assessments and combustible gas detectors should be routinely used to identify and monitor for flammable atmospheres before and during hot work. Effective gas monitoring will save lives.”

The video is available for viewing and downloading on the CSB’s website as well as the agency’s YouTube channel. Free DVDs can be requested by completing the online request from www.csb.gov.

The CSB investigation of the explosion at Packaging Corp. of America remains ongoing. A final report with formal safety recommendations is expected later this year.

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