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Nitrogen asphyxiation during maintenance

Published on 15/11/23 122 Views

A manufacturing plant producing ethylene oxide was undergoing a maintenance turnaround. Two workers were conducting ultra-violet (UV of “black light”) inspection of the flanges at the two openings. They successfully completed inspection of the first flange and then placed a black plastic sheet over the second opening to provide shade to aid conducting UV inspection of the flange in bright daylight. While working just outside the pipe opening and inside the black plastic sheet, the 2 workers were overcome by nitrogen. One worker died from asphyxiation. The other survived but was severely injured.

Ask yourself and your crew:

  • How can something like this happen here (e.g. on our site)?
  • What safety measures (i.e. procedures, controls/barriers) do we have in place to mitigate the risk?
  • How do we know the risk controls/barriers are working?
  • What improvements or changes should we make to the procedures, controls/barriers or the way we work?

Original content courtesy of IChemE Safety Centre