Danger of last-minute fixes

by on June 2, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Something isn’t done right. So a worker tries to make up for it later.

Problem: The last-minute fix doesn’t conform to a safety plan.

That’s what happened at the Department of Energy recently, and this accident shows why it’s critical employees run any last-minute fixes by you.

A welder was supposed to install a piece of steel pipe that had a pressure gauge on it. But someone forgot to install the gauge during pre-assembly.

The welder realized the problem after he’d installed the pipe. He figured he’d just cut a hole in the pipe and install the gauge.

But the previous day, workers used PVC cement to install new PVC piping attached to the pipe he was working on. Overnight, the cement gave off vapors that were explosive – and had a low flash point.

Sure enough, the heat from the welder’s acetylene torch ignited the vapor and exploded. The force threw shrapnel up to 60 feet away. The welder was injured and nearby workers suffered temporary hearing loss.

What to do
To avoid these kinds of accidents, have workers:

  1. Check that pre-assembled parts are in fact, correctly assembled according to spec. If the welder had done that, he would have noticed the missing pressure gauge and could have safely assembled it prior to the pipe’s installation.
  2. Think about hazards inside closed spaces. The welder assumed there was nothing in the pipe.
  3. Check with you before going with a last-minute fix. The welder’s “fix” was not vetted for safety, so he was flying blind.

photo credit: elisfanclub

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