A night watchman for a logging company in the Southeast was starting a fire in the shop stove one evening.
The 55-year-old night watchman was considered trained to perform his duties.
UNSAFE ACT AND CONDITIONS:
The night watchman failed to notice a few red hot coals that were in the bottom of the stove. To restart the fire, he placed a large log into the stove and shoved in some bags of trash that truck drivers had left in the shop. The trash included plastic soda bottles with the caps on. He also poured waste oil from a five-gallon drain pan/bucket into a cup, which he threw into the fire to help it along. (The waste oil container was later discovered to have small amounts of combustible diesel fuel and Varsol fluid.)
While the stove door was still open, the embers from the previous day’s fire ignited the trash. This caused a closed bottle to burst and throw hot embers out of the stove and onto the watchman. The embers also fell into the waste oil container that the night watchman had set down next to the stove. The vapors coming from the open waste oil container ignited and caused it to explode and spray the flammable materials across the shop.
When the fire flashed, it threw oil onto the watchman and caused burns to his body. He required hospitalization and skin grafts.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
• Always know the condition of the embers and the materials you plan to burn. Dispose of garbage properly, not in stoves.
• Do not add combustible or flammable fluids to “help” a fire that has glowing embers already.
• Be aware that pressurized containers, including plastic bottles, can and will burst when the heat expands the gasses trapped inside them.
• Do not use fluids to start a fire without knowing what the fluid container really contains.
• Keep waste oil containers far away from the shop stove or other flame, and keep a lid on them. Reviewed by:
Southwide Safety Committee;
Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager