DATE: June 22, 2011
INCIDENT TYPE: Employee Injury
LOCATION: District 9
TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Removing Lid from Hazmat Drum
THE INCIDENT: On June 13, 2011, an employee was injured when removing the lid from a new (reconditioned) hazmat 55-gallon open top drum. After loosening the ring, the employee attempted to remove the lid. The lid appeared to be stuck when the employee applied pressure to remove it. Following a loud bang, the lid blew off and struck the employee in the face causing chin and teeth injuries. The drums were purchased in March 2011. The drums have a black exterior with a yellowish, brown paint inside. The drums are stored outside in ambient air temperature, which was 94°F at the time of the incident.
CONCLUSIONS: Empty drums may become pressurized due to travel between low and high altitudes and/or changes of ambient temperatures. Extreme caution is necessary to prevent injury while removing the drum ring/lid.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Refer to the manufacturer instructions for lid removal. Check drum to determine condition. If safe to open, stand at a safe distance, and slowly apply pressure to remove the lid with a device such as a pry bar. If the lid or bottom is bulged, do not open it. Recheck at a later time to determine the condition of the drum.
HEADQUARTERS OFFICE OF SAFETY AND HEALTH (916) 227-2640