Hot Works – gas torch-fatal burn injuries: Risk Alert from Steamship

Transport Malta has issued Safety Investigation Report 09/2023 which related to a fatal incident on board a bulk carrier, reports Steamship Mutual. The incident drew attention to the dangers of uncontrolled hot work being undertaken with inadequate preparation, no work permit and poor supervision.

In this fatal incident a deck fitter joined the 2013-built, Malta-flagged, 36,353 gt Kiran Anatolia (IMO 9650171) (entered with Skuld (Copenhagen) on behalf of Pasifik Gemi Isletmeciligi Ve Ticaret AS) to assist in the replacement of leaking hydraulic oil carrying pipes and other hot work repairs. The fitter had commenced work on a section of leaking hydraulic oil pipe using an oxy-acetylene torch when a fire started either from a flashback at the oxy-acetylene torch, or by the ignition of hydraulic oil. The subsequent investigation revealed that the commencement of the repair work had not been agreed and that neither a hot work nor a cold work permit had been issued.

The fire that engulfed the fitter was considered to be due to either a flashback in the oxy-acetylene equipment or the ignition of the leaking hydraulic oil.

Steamship noted that, although the cause remained inconclusive, the report highlighted the importance of installing a flashback arrestor in the supply lines of the oxy-acetylene torch and ensuring that the hydraulic piping was oil-free before hot work can be undertaken.

A failure to follow and implement appropriate preparation and safety protocols suggested a lack of knowledge and safety awareness from the fitter.

The Malta report referred to a Transport Malta Safety Investigation Report No. 05/2022 which had similarly identified the dangers of working with heat or spark generating tools, a lack of safety awareness and inadequate supervision of a repair gang. Club Risk Alert 87 was issued to raise awareness of these issues.