Two Pennsylvania painting company employees have been injured, one severely, in the explosion of a pressurized tank they were welding.
Smith County Sheriff’s Office
|Hot-work tank explosions have killed dozens of workers since 1990, including three Wisconsin men in 2008.|
News reports said the two employees of D&M Painting, an industrial painting contractor in Amwell, PA, near Pittsburgh, were caught in the blast about 5 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 22).
One man suffered a severe head injury and was flown to UPMC-Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. The other man was transported to the same hospital by ambulance, the local Observer-Reporter reported.
Key facts of the accident, including its location, remained unclear as the investigations continued Thursday (Aug. 23).
Quoting local fire officials, news reports said the men had been working at a business in Amwell.
However, D&M project manager Stephanie Holland said by email that the accident had occurred at someone’s home, “on their own time.” She declined to discuss details or to identify the workers, saying the company was concerned for their survival.
Amwell Township Fire Chief Mark Wright did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but he told the Washington Observer-Reporter that something apparently “gave way” as the men were performing routine maintenance on an air compressor.
Firefighters from Amity and Lone Pine set up a landing zone in a field near the business, Wright told the newspaper.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had no knowledge of the incident and was seeking more details Thursday, a spokeswoman said.
Hot Work Dangers
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has been trying for several years to raise awareness about the dangers of welding, cutting and other so-called “hot work” activities around tanks.
In March 2010, the board issued a Safety Bulletin warning of the hazards of conducting hot work in a variety of industries and identifying seven key lessons aimed at preventing worker deaths during such work.
That bulletin and a companion video cited more than 60 hot-work deaths since 1990, including one accident that killed three employees of Packaging Corp. of America in Wisconsin in 2008.