Safety Tips to Avoid an Oil Field Flash-Fire Construction Accident

A flash fire occurs when a flame rapidly propagates through an airborne fuel such as flammable vapors, gas, or fine dust. The event lasts a few seconds, causes no explosive force, and primarily inflicts injury by igniting the victim's clothing. The essential ingredients for a flash fire are a diffuse fuel suspended in the air with the right fuel-oxygen mixture, and an ignition source.

Flash fire danger is particularly acute in the Bakken field because its oil contains volatile organic compounds. Safety tips for preventing and mitigating the effects of this type of accident include:

Wearing Flame Resistant Clothing

The flash fire itself is usually too brief to cause life-threatening burns. Instead, flammable clothing ignites and burns for longer periods next to the skin. This inflicts severe and sometimes life-threatening burns. Flame resistant clothing is lightweight and does not continue burning after the flash fire is over. Although it doesn't prevent the accident itself, it greatly reduces the harmful effects. It's important to keep the clothing clean. A buildup of flammable contaminants, such as oil in the fabric, nullifies its flame resistance.

Using Proper Ventilation

Never use heat-producing tools in areas lacking proper ventilation. Use air monitoring sensors to ensure the ventilation is adequate. Heat is produced by electrical motors (electrical arcing), welding and gas cutting tools, flames, and the friction involved in metal grinding and cutting.

Using Approved Tools

Only use approved tools when working in areas with flammable vapors, gases, or dust. Note that many flammable vapors are heavier than air and will concentrate in lower elevations such as in holes, trenches, or tunnels.

Providing Worker Training

Train workers to recognize hazardous situations associated with hydrocarbons. They should know the types of work that expose them to flash-fire dangers and should understand that only approved equipment and tools are allowed. Fire extinguisher training is also important.

If you suffered an injury in a fire-related construction accident, the experienced lawyers at Odegaard Braukmann Law can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

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