How to avoid explosions at mining sites

June 26, 2014

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An accident involving an exploding centrifugal pump part at sand and gravel mine has resulted in the death of a production supervisor, according to an accident report released Wednesday by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The June 18, 2014 incident involved a 41-year-old production supervisor with 19 years of experience who was killed when the centrifugal pump he was heating exploded and metal fragments struck him.

According to the report, the supervisor and two contract workers were attempting to remove an impeller that was seized onto the threaded shaft of the pump. When they couldn’t unscrew the impeller, they began applying heat from a torch to the enclosed hub on the impeller. While heat was being applied, the hub exploded.

MSHA recommends the following best practices for preventing explosion accidents:

  • Establish and discuss safe work procedures before beginning work. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work to be performed and use methods to properly protect persons.

  • Train all persons to understand the hazards associated with the work being performed.

  • Do not apply heat or open flame where enclosed spaces such as impeller hubs, mounted tires, suspension struts, or tanks may be subject to explosion except as directed by the manufacturer.

  • Always examine materials before ensuring that flammables/combustibles/explosive materials are not present.

  • Never apply heat to materials where pressure build up is possible.

  • Do not apply heat or open flame where lubricants, oil or grease are present.

  • Use special tools, provided by the manufacturer, to loosen an impeller on a pump.

  • Refer to the maintenance manual, warning labels on the pump, or contact the manufacturer for special safety precautions.

The full accident investigation report is not yet available. For more information about this accident, click here.

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