Task or Environmental Conditions » LTA communication

6Mine Worker Suffers Chemical Burns to Eyes due to High Pressure Fluid Release



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Brief Description of Incident/Accident & Description of Consequences/Outcomes:

A coal mine worker received facial injuries and chemical burns to his eyes as a result of the uncontrolled release of diluted foam catalyst (sulphuric acid, phenol, and phenolsulphonic acid) from a pressurised line.

The direct cause was the disconnection of a pressurised fluid-filled line. The pressure in the line had not been reduced before disconnection commenced.

The worker was not wearing safety goggles.

The injury occurred at the end of a 12 hour shift after injecting foam into a cavity in the roof of a long-wall face. The worker was in the process of packing up and storing the gear ready for the next night shift.

Initial first-aid treatment was carried out by flushing the injured worker’s eyes with water.

He was subsequently treated by paramedics. Fortunately he didn’t lose his eyesight.

This emphasizes the importance of controlling the release of hazardous energy, wearing correct personal protective equipment (safety goggles / face shield) and immediate first-aid treatment where eyes come into contact with hazardous chemicals.

Identified Root Causes:

  • Worker removing the staple while the hose was still under pressure.
  • Worker failing to fully dissipate the pressure.

Energy Type(s) Involved:

Corrosive chemical fluid under pressure

Equipment Type(s):

Chemical pump and high pressure fluid lines

Root & Contributing Cause(s):

LTA awareness

LTA hazard identification

LTA isolation

LTA maintenance work method

LTA PPE

LTA pressure control

LTA work method

Stated or Potential Consequence(s):

Potential Fatality

Preventative/Recommended/Accepted Steps of Risk Mitigation, Points of Interest:

  • Installation of 3-way valves for isolation and de-pressurisation of fluid lines
  • Design equipment with the facility to permit locks to be used for isolation
  • In addition to colour coding, ensure valves and gauges are labelled with text
  • Conduct a review of risk assessments that have analysed ‘using liquid chemicals under pressure’
  • Review procedures in relation to de-energising and isolation
  • Reinforce the requirement for, and re-emphasise the importance of positive and effective communication
  • Refresher training for all workers specifically for isolation and de-pressurisation
  • Reinforce the requirement for, and re-emphasise the importance of wearing appropriate PPE suitable for the task
  • Retrain workers and supervisors to ensure specific requirements of Mines SOP for Personal Protective Equipment, Isolation and Tagging, and MSDS for use of the chemical.

Note – When implementing the recommendations from this safety alert, the hierarchy of control approach should be followed.

It is essential that tasks which involve the use of hazardous chemicals have appropriate emergency response equipment nearby (viz; eyewash stations / first-aid aid kits with emergency eye-treatment kits).

If risk based work practices were carried out, then the hazard would have been identified and appropriate controls would have been in place, as required by the MSDS. Chemical management should ensure that there is appropriate supervision. Risk management shall ensure that risk assessments are carried out for hazardous substances. To reduce the risk of injury or illness from hazardous substances, the MSDS must be read, understood and safety precautions followed, prior to working with any hazardous substance.

MSDS shall be readily accessible, a copy of which shall be used in emergency response, including first aid and also provided to the doctor where follow-up treatment is necessary.

Organisation:

Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI)


Results

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Information

Reference Type:

Safety Alert #196

Mine Type:

Underground Mine > Underground Coal Mine

Energy:

Chemical > Liquid

Equipment:

Published:

2008

Region:

Australia, Queensland



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