Blog Post #219 – Trailer blast claims one, injures another Alberta worker

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

An Alberta worker is dead and a fellow employee was injured during an explosion inside a tanker trailer on February 3, 2008.

The deadly blast occurred at approximately 7:30 pm on February 2 while two employees of M&L Trucking were working at a site 10 kilometres south of the hamlet of Altario, says AEI spokesperson Barrie Harrison. A pup trailer earlier used to carry produced water from the drill site was steam-cleaned, Harrison reports. Following that, one worker entered the steel trailer, measuring 50 feet wide and 100 feet long, to carry out an inspection. The blast occurred shortly thereafter.

The employee, 56, succumbed at the scene; his co-worker was taken to a hospital in nearby Consort, Alberta “with relatively minor” injuries and was later released, Harrison says.

M&L Trucking has been issued a stop-work order related to any confined space entry. The investigation into the cause of the explosion — including whether or not chemicals, fumes or vapours played a role — was continuing at press time. “The integrity of the building itself is in question because of the explosion,” Harrison says.

Jeff Grubbs, health, safety and environment manager for Everready Industrial Services Corp. in Edmonton, says that during high-heat applications, such as a steam-cleaning process, hydrocarbons inside produced water will vaporize and spread throughout a tanker. “You get enough oxygen and enough explosive vapour in there at the right mixture… [and] all it needs is an ignition source,” Grubbs says. “That can even be static electricity. Static can even come from the steam going through the hose.”

My opinion

As a trainer of health and safety, I continually announce to most of my classes that my favourite course to teach is ‘Confined Space Entry’. There is a reason for this attitude. A person can get through life without a forklift ROT (record of training) (not recommended) or on any numerous course ROTs out there. ‘Confined Space Entry’ accidents usually happen to those without any training and the accidents usually end up as a tragic event. A critical injury may have occurred or even worse, a death(s).

Ontario regulation 632/05 covers ‘Confined Space Entry’. Please acquire a copy to better acquaint yourself on the issues of a ‘Confined Space’.

For those not in the know the legal definition of a ‘Confined Space’ is as follows;

“Confined Space” means a fully or partially enclosed space,

a) That is not both designed and constructed for continuous human occupancy, and
b) In which atmospheric hazards may occur because of its construction, location or contents or because of work that is done in it.

My gift to the workers of Alberta is the proper definition of a ‘Confined Space’. Please contact your employer with your concerns if you feel the area you are entering may be a ‘Confined Space’.

You will certainly live longer.

Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Confined Spaced Entry’ and ‘Lockout and Tagout’. 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 – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc

17 thoughts on “Blog Post #219 – Trailer blast claims one, injures another Alberta worker”

  1. For future reference, this is Alberta’s definition of a confined space.

    In Alberta, a confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed space that is not designed or intended for continuous human occupancy with a restricted, limited, or impeded means of entry or exit because of its construction and may become hazardous to a worker entering it because of  

    (a) an atmosphere that is or may be injurious by reason of oxygen deficiency or
    enrichment, flammability, explosivity, or toxicity,
    (b) a condition or changing set of circumstances within the space that present a potential for injury or illness, or
    (c) the potential or inherent characteristics of an activity which can produce adverse or harmful consequences within the space.

    • I wanted to thank you for the information. Since this article was written, I have attained a copy of the Alberta health and safety regulations. Most provinces have a similar definition of a confined space.

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


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