Incident summary: After the regulator on a compressed gas cylinder snapped off when the unit tipped over and hit the ground, the gas inside the cylinder was ignited by a nearby torch, and a worker was enveloped in flames.
The damage: An employee was using a 50-foot hose attached to a gas cylinder to melt-weld material onto a surface. However, he was unable to reach one area, so he needed to reposition the cylinder.
He put the lit torch in its built-in stand and went to move the cylinder. As he was doing so, the cylinder tipped over and struck the ground, which caused the regulator assembly to break off.
The pressurized liquid gas inside the cylinder began to spray throughout the work area, and the gas was quickly ignited by the lit torch positioned in the stand. With the cylinder on its side, flames were shooting out of the broken regulator.
A wall of flame enveloped the crew member. A nearby supervisor rushed over and managed to turn off the regulator, which extinguished the fire.
The severely burned man was rushed to the hospital, and he survived the incident, but he was left with permanent scars from his severe burn injuries.
Findings: The staffer failed to follow proper safety procedures when using compressed gas cylinders. Most significant, the cylinder wasn’t properly secured during the job.
Plus, the regulator on the cylinder had recently been replaced. However, the replacement regulator was longer than the original one was. As a result, the new regulator extended beyond the outside of the cylinder, which made it more likely that the regulator would break off when the cylinder struck the ground.
(From the Feb. 1, 2021, issue of Safety Alert for Supervisors. To sign up for a no-obligation subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)