Hot caustic solution injures worker at processing plant - 7.12.15

A worker suffered serious burns to his face and body while doing routine maintenance work on a processing plant in Western Australia.

According to reports submitted by the Department of Mines and Petroleum WA, the injured worker was cleaning a screen box which was attached to a pipework below a thickener tank when the incident happened.

The DMP said, that they first opened the drain valve to confirm isolation prior doing four bolts to open the screen box.

The report added, “On opening the screen box door, the operator found the screen full of material; as he pulled the screen out of its housing a blockage upstream of the screen box dislodged. The operator was engulfed in 95 degree Celsius caustic solution, receiving thermal and caustic burns to his body and face.”

DMP’s report went saying that an emergency responder discovered that the main isolation valve was open.

This was listed as the direct cause of the incident, as the screen box and connected valves were not isolated from the system. It added that the process operator was directly in front of the screen box when the blockage was dislodged.

DMP also stated that there were several number of problems which contributes to the incident.

“The isolation of valves was not verified through either a second and independent method of ensuring all valves were closed, or checking the effectiveness of each isolation point by separately observing a “change of state”,” the reports said.

Moreover, the worker inadvertently thought that he had closed the main isolation valve, but in reality it was done by a blocked pipe, while excessive scale had also build up inside the vessel after there was a delay in the routine maintenance.

It was also reported that it was hard to know the position of the main isolation valve if it was closed or not, and that it was compounded as operators were not asked to lock or tag isolation points during routine tasks.

The DMP’s reports recommended that the plant should have a better plant design and change of the current plant which includes facilities for proving an isolation point and the installation of flushing systems to determine pipework.

Source: OHS News