Sequence of events
The fatal Partridge-Raleigh oilfield explosion occurred in June 2006. Partridge-Raleigh had hired contractors from an independent firm (Stringer’s Oilfield Services) to carry out maintenance on the tanks used by Partridge-Raleigh to store oil. Specifically, the contractors were required to install pipes from two oil storage tanks to another tank.
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During the installation process, welding sparks came into contact with the flammable vapor generated by open pipes eventually causing a fatal explosion. Out of the four workers deployed on the facility, three of them lost their lives while the other suffered serious injuries. Before this incidence, workers from Stringer’s Oilfield Services had managed to relocate two oil tanks from other sites to the new site.
The only task left was to install connecting pipes on the facility, but the explosion messed up everything. In a summary, the explosion was caused by errors made by the welders due to their inability to observe safety precautions when dealing with dangerous and explosive components (The US Chemical Investigation Board, 2007).
In order to prevent the occurrence of such incidences, I would have taken quite a number of preventive measures. Since the equipments are highly flammable, I would have used a gas detector to find out flammable vapour present in the tank other than using a lit torch.
I would isolate the open pipes and remove the pipes that were connecting the new tank with the older tanks that contained flammable liquid (The US Chemical Investigation Board, 2007).
Other measures of preventing such explosions include employment of qualified and well trained personnel to perform such tasks, observing extreme caution when working on containers with flammable liquids and also ensuring that every person involved understands the welding hazards.
The storage drums should be grounded especially when there is need to transfer flammable liquids from one storage tank to another (Ferguson & Janicak, 2005).
The subsequent investigations carried out by the government officials only relied on the findings from investigation agencies. In order to make a proper assessment of the accident, it is necessary to carry out thorough investigation in order to find out the real cause of the accident besides establishing why the accident happened. This will help in making appropriate changes to prevent the occurrence of such incidences in future.
In my own opinion, it is evident that the two firms did not follow safety practices required when working with highly flammable liquids. The Stringers Oilfield Services did not undertake proper training of its workers. While working on the facility, workers did not use the right equipment to ensure the safety of the process.
For example, besides using a scaffold to work on raised surfaces, the welder used an ordinary ladder. Partridge-Raleigh also failed to take any step to ensure that the hired firm had well trained workers capable of observing caution when operatting containers with flammable materials.
According to the US Chemical Investigation Board (2007), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) did not carry out its duties effectively. Hence, OSHA failed to inspect Stringer’s Oilfield Services and Partridge-Raleigh for close to three years before the explosion occurred. Thus, I totally agree with the investigation methods used by the United States Chemical Safety Board.
Proper hazard analysis would have averted the crisis since both firms would have prior knowledge on the likely practices that would endanger the whole process. This would help the two firms to come up with preventive measures before starting the maintenance process.
Ferguson, L. H., & Janicak, C. A. (2005).Fundamentals of fire protection for the safety professional. Lanham, Md: Government Institutes.
The US Chemical Investigation Board (2007). Case study: hot work control and safe work practices at oil and gas production wells. Web.