FACEValue: Mechanic dies from boric acid burns
Issued by: Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: July 2012
A maintenance mechanic at an aluminum foil processing facility died after being exposed to a solution of boric acid and water – estimated to be heated to about 180° F – while trying to remove a recirculation pump from its housing. The pump was part of a boric acid evaporation system. Workers believed the system had been completely drained. As the victim and other workers used two 1.5-ton puller devices to free the pump from its housing, a small amount of hot water and boric acid solution fanned out from around the seal. Seconds later, hundreds of gallons of hot liquid flowed out. The victim fell to the floor and was covered with the solution. Safety glasses were the only personal protective equipment he was wearing. He died two days later as a result of his injuries.
To prevent future occurrences:
- Design new equipment for manufacturing processes using the concept of Prevention through Design to control risks by incorporating prevention methods in the final product.
- Enforce a comprehensive written hazardous energy control program and train all workers on the program.
- Develop written standard procedures for regular maintenance operations that includes information about hazards, required PPE, necessary safety checks, lockout/tagout procedures and coordination with other workgroups.
- Ensure workers who may be exposed to hot liquids are provided with and use the proper PPE, including appropriate eye/face, hand and body protection.