Encouraging Safety: Hand Protection & Fall Protection

On October 4, 2005, an employee was working as a refrigeration mechanic. An ammonia system valve in freezer Number 7 was being turned, when the bonnet came loose with the wheel, releasing approximately 100 to 200 lbs of ammonia. He was not wearing protective gloves. The employee was 35 feet up without fall protection, and he had to slide down racking to escape. He gave notification to shut the system down and summoned the city's hazard materials team. The plant and the surrounding businesses were evacuated without incident. The employee sustained first and second degree chemical burns on his left hand. He was not hospitalized. This was not the first time that the bonnet of that Hansen 1.25 in. shut off valve had come off when the valve was turned. This type of valve is now made with a bolt to prevent the bonnet from turning.

Analysis and Preventive Measures

  • Adequate measures need to be taken for preventing or minimizing the consequences of releases of reactive chemicals. These releases may result in toxic hazards.
  • Employer shall be responsible for assessing potential hazards and ensure adequate PPE is worn, including hand protection, fall protection, and respiratory equipment.

Questions To Ponder

  1. Knowing the problems in the past were employees required to wear appropriate PPE?
  2. Were employees inspected to ensure they were wearing appropriate PPE?
  3. Why was this type of valve not replaced before this incident occurred?

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