Safety Articles HSE Odds and Ends- OSHA Fatal Facts Oil Patch No. 5 - 2012



Accident Type:  Flash fire from crude oil vapors

Weather Conditions: Clear, sales nurse sunny

Type of Operation: Oil well servicing/Production

Size of Work Crew: 3

Worksite Inspection Conducted by Employer: No

Competent Safety Monitoring on Site: No

Safety and Health Program In Effect: Minimal

Training and Education for Employees: Minimal

Job Title of Deceased Employee: Laborer

Age/Sex of Deceased Employee: 26/M

Time on Job: 1 day

Time at Task: 2 hours

Short Service Employee (<1 Year): Yes

Time Employed: 2 months

Brief Description of Accident

Three employees were working on a leaking crude oil flow line that connected a production well to its tank battery. They dug a trench to access the leaking flow line and cut out a 6-ft. long section from the pipe using a cold cutter. Two of the employees attempted to thread the cut on the flow line with a manual pipe-threading machine (threader) but the dies on the threader were dull. Therefore, shop the workers asked the office to have new dies for the machine delivered to the site. Instead of installing the new dies in the manual pipe threader that was used earlier, remedy the dies were installed in an electric pipe threader.


1. Perform job hazard analyses (JHAs) prior to beginning work to determine potential hazards of the job and their controls such as leaking flammable vapors from equipment that had previously contained hydrocarbons, control of ignition sources, working in excavations, and lockout/tagout.

2. Do not use electrical tools and equipment that are not approved for the hazardous location where the work is to be performed, i.e., do not allow unapproved electrical tools and equipment to be an ignition source for flammable vapors.

3. Develop and implement a hot work permitting program that includes atmospheric monitoring for concentrations of flammable vapors and provide ventilation to limit the concentration of flammable vapors to below 10% of their LEL.

4. Provide and require the use of flame-resistant clothing (FRC) for workers who are exposed to flash-fire hazards.

5. Provide workers training emphasizing the following:

    a. Hazards related to working with piping and other equipment that has contained hydrocarbons;

    b. The use of electrically approved tools and equipment for locations where flammable vapors might be present, i.e., hazardous          atmospheres; and

    c. Hazards of working in trenches, for example, engulfment hazards and fire/explosion hazards due to the fact that flammable vapors accumulate and do not readily dissipate from trenches and other low-lying areas.

Note: The described case was selected as being representative of improper work practices, which likely contributed to a fatality from an accident. The accident prevention recommendations do not necessarily reflect the outcome of any legal aspects of the incident case. OSHA encourages your company or organization to duplicate and share this information.


Safety - Articles & Info

Who's Online

We have 5305 guests online
Facebook Image

Our Locations

  • Stanton, TX 79782
  • (432) 458-3660
  • Bakersfield, CA 93312
  • (661) 695-3064
  • California Contractors License #922227