23/01/2022

HSSE WORLD

Health, Safety, Security and Environment

E-Books: Hot Work on Drums and Tanks

4 min read

This booklet describes the safety procedures that should be followed by anyone who plans to do hot work — that is, welding, gas cutting, brazing, or soldering — on any fuel tank, drum, container, or pipe that has previously contained a combustible substance.
If you do this type of work, whether as part of your job or simply as a hobby, it is vital that you understand the dangers involved and faithfully follow the procedures described here.
This booklet is primarily concerned with hot work on tanks, drums, and vessels with a capacity of fewer than 2,500 liters. Some mention is made of the specialized procedures required when working on larger vessels, but no one should attempt this complex and dangerous work without previous training and experience.
Many people have been injured or killed by exploding drums or tanks — a few of those cases are reported in Appendix 2 of this booklet. All these accidents have followed a similar pattern and all could have been avoided if the proper precautions had been taken. Don’t make the mistake of thinking accidents always happen to someone else.

Hot Work on Drums and Tanks Book’s cover

When you have read this booklet, we suggest you keep it handy in your workshop for future reference. We also suggest you bring it to the attention of your colleagues or friends who do this type of work. A little time spent studying it could prevent a lot of unnecessary suffering.

Hot work

WHY ACCIDENTS HAPPEN

Any combustible material in a tank, drum, or similar container can give off vapor or fumes when you apply heat to it. Mixed with air in the right proportions these fumes can explode violently when the critical temperature is reached or when ignited by a spark from a welding or cutting torch. Sometimes even a spark from a mechanical tool will be enough to ignite highly explosive vapors such as petrol.If a tank or drum explodes while you are working on it, you are likely to suffer multiple injuries:

  • The shock wave or blast produced by the rise in pressure may damage your ear drums, lungs and circulatory system.
  • Fragments from the vessel become missiles which can cause penetrating and damaging wounds.
  • You may be hurled against a wall or hard object and suffer broken bones and further internal injuries.

Contents

The content of Hot Work on Drums and Tanks:

  • ABOUT THIS BOOKLET
  • 1 WHY ACCIDENTS HAPPEN
  • 2 WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
  • 3 HOW TO CLEAN TANKS AND DRUMS
  • 4 HOW TO INERT DRUMS AND TANKS
  • 5 SAFETY HINTS FOR HOT WORK
  • 6 ALTERNATIVES TO HOT WORK
  • 7 SUMMARY AND ADDITIONAL REMINDERS
  • 8 THE EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITIES
  • APPENDIX 1: SOME DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES
  • APPENDIX 2: ACCIDENT REPORTS

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