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Safety Alert: Water Drops in Babbitt Pot Cause Burns to Driver
Employee reached for the towel, and water that had gathered on his hard hat fell into the Babbitt pot and splashed molten metal onto his face, arm and hands.
Date Posted: 3/1/2009
On a warm summer day in the Lakes States, a truck driver of a whole-tree chipping business was cleaning up in the shop after a full day’s work.
The driver had been employed by the contractor for three years. He was fully trained, had no accident history and attended monthly safety meetings.
Unsafe Act or Condition
Several unsafe conditions in the shop contributed to an accident.
1. The babbitt pot (which contains a molten metal alloy used to build up and maintain chipper knives) had been left on by a trainee all day; it was normally turned off by 10 a.m. each work day.
2. A towel for drying hands had been moved from the sink area.
3. Towels were stored on shelves above the babbitt pot.
Before washing his hands, the employee removed his hard hat. He did not notice the towel was no longer at its normal spot until he finished washing his hands. He glanced around the small shop and saw a towel above the Babbitt pot. He walked to it and reached for the towel, and water that had gathered on his hard hat fell into the Babbitt pot and splashed molten metal onto his face, arm and hands.
The truck driver received third-degree burns on his upper lip, right hand and forearm.
There should be procedures in place to ensure that all equipment is powered down when not in use, with or without trainees on the job. With a trainee at the job site, it is even more imperative to check and ensure that equipment is powered down when not in use. A change in storage may be in order; avoid storing anything above the babbitt pot that is used often. A warning sign should be posted at the station noting burn hazards and safety requirements. It should be a safety requirement that no liquids should come within 10 feet of the babbitt pot, and the babbitt pot should be covered when not in use.
(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)
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