Blog Post #580 – Fallen Drum Sparks Explosion

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A worker operating a forklift at Masterloy Products Company in Ottawa s burn injuries on August 22, 2011, when a fallen drum of chemicals exploded and sparked a fire.

The operator suffered second-degree burns to 30% of his body and third-degree burns to his back.

The 46-year-old worker was taken to Ottawa Hospital to check for internal injuries, says Stephanie Logan, a spokesperson for the Ottawa paramedic service. “They always consider that because there was an explosion,” Logan explains.

The worker had been using a forklift to move some drums when one fell off and exploded, apparently prompting the lifts propane tank to also explode, reports MOL spokesperson Matt Blajer. The initial cause of the explosion had not been determined in late August, Blajer says.

Marc Messier, a public information officer for Ottawa Fire Services, says that firefighters originally believed there might have been a dust explosion in or around the dust collection unit on site as there was fire damage in the collector.

“There was mention of some drums containing aluminum powder,” Messier says. “However, there was no indication that these drums were involved.”

The company’s website notes the firm is Canada’s only producer of ferrovanadium and ferromolybdenum, and the only independent converter of the alloys.

On August 25, 2011 an MOL investigator issued the following orders:

• Stop handling barrels of re-burn dust until a procedure to prevent a similar hazard has been put in place;
• train all workers in the procedure for handling barrels of re-burn dust;
• Ensure the drums of re-burn dust are lifted, carried or moved in a way that does not endanger the worker; and,
• have an engineer assess the existing re-burn dust collection system to ensure it meets applicable standards and provides report to the MOL.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Hamilton, Ontario, offers recommendations related to load handling on forklift trucks:

• position the load as per the recommended load centre located on the data plate of the lift truck;
• keep loads close to the front wheel to keep the forklift stable; and
• Ensure loads on pellets are stable, neat, cross-tied if possible, and evenly distributed.

The forklift operator, obviously was not trained to the competency standard in Ontario. If he/she had been, the moving of barrels not banded would have driven a work refusal (section 43) of the OHSA.

If the reader is not familiar with the Ontario definition of competency I have listed it below:

“competent person” means a person who,
(a) is qualified because of knowledge, training and experience to organize the work and its performance,
(b) is familiar with this Act and the regulations that apply to the work, and
(c) has knowledge of any potential or actual danger to health or safety in the workplace.

The operator should have been given training including certain sections of the OHSA and appropriate regulations. The employer MUST ensure the worker has been made aware of ALL potential hazards and place controls of the hazards as a part of the SOPs. (safe operating procedures)

The operator has had a lift altering experience because of the fallen drum and the employer had not practiced ‘Due Diligence’.

Please protect your workforce!

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Forklift Certification’, ‘Chemical Safety Awareness’ and ‘Forklift Re-Certification’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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