A four-person investigation team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) was deployed to El Dorado, Ark., on Tuesday to determine the cause of an explosion and fire that severely burned and killed three workers.

The accident occurred Monday mid-afternoon on an oil tank site operated by Long Brothers Oil Co. on land the company leased near El Dorado, in the southernmost part of the state. Preliminary information gathered by the CSB indicates workers were conducting hot work -any burning, cutting, welding or other operation that is capable of initiating fires or explosions - on one of the tanks.

CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “This unfortunate tragedy in Arkansas involving the deaths of three workers is the kind of hot work accident that occurs much too frequently. The CSB has investigated too many of these accidents which can be prevented by carefully monitoring for flammable vapor before and during hot work. We have released a safety bulletin and safety video on the hazards of welding or cutting around piping and tanks that have not been tested or monitored to see if they contain flammable hydrocarbons.”

The bulletin, released in February 2010, is entitled, “Seven Key Lessons to Prevent Worker Deaths During Hot Work In and Around Tanks: Effective Hazard Assessment and Use of Combustible Gas Monitoring Will Save Lives.” The video, “Hot Work: Hidden Hazards,” is available at www.csb.gov or at www.youtube.com/uscsb.