Safe Transportation of Bitumen and Workplace Safety

The Arrive Alive website was recently approached with a request for safety information on the transportation of Bitumen. We referred this to our friends at the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC).

With the assistance from SAFCEC and the South African Bitumen Association we are able to assist with important safety information from an actual incident.

 

1. Description of Incident

The Bitumen Distributor (BD) driver and BD operator were required to offload bitumen from a hauler truck into a BD and thereafter transfer the bitumen into a static tank. The BD operator connected a flexible pipe to the offloading valve of the hauler truck and to the off-loading point on the BD.

With no flow of bitumen taking place from the hauler truck into the BD, the BD operator requested the BD driver to reverse the pump (in order to direct the flow from the BD into the hauler) in an attempt to clear any blockages.

The BD Operator then climbed to the top of the hauler truck to check for air bubbles in order to confirm whether there was flow from the BD to the hauler truck. The remaining product (cold water based) was pumped from the BD into the hauler truck which contained oil based product at +- 165 °C.

This caused the hot bitumen to create superheated steam which rapidly expanded resulting in the bitumen being blown out of the hauler truck’s man-hole. The erupting hot bitumen came into contact with the BD operator. He passed away after six weeks in hospital.

 

2. Key Findings

  1. The flexible pipe was connected to the offloading valve of the hauler truck and incorrectly to the off-loading point on the BD instead of the loading point of BD.
     
  2. The BD had cold water based product which is incompatible with oil based product that was in the hauler truck. [See additional note below]
     
  3. Inadequate work planning, hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) was conducted.
     
  4. The BD was supposed to have been flushed/ cleaned before switch-loading (loading a different mix of bitumen)
     
  5. The BD operator was on top of the hauler instead of being positioned at the back of the BD.
     
  6. The BD Operator, BD Driver and hauler driver were working with no supervision.
     
  7. The injured was not wearing the required personal protective clothing for the task.
  8. The following SHE management system shortcomings were also identified:

  1. Insufficient job-specific training of BD operators (high risk activities)
     
  2. Inadequate documentation of safe operating procedures (SOPs)
     
  3. Lack of follow-up and learning from previous similar incidents
     
  4. Insufficient contractor management (commercial arrangements not documented; unclear SHE roles and responsibilities of all parties; no supervision and HIRA)
     
  5. Insufficient inspections and audits of high risk activities at remote sites

Additional Note:

With specific reference to Key Finding – No 2 “The BD had cold water based product which is incompatible with oil based product that was in the hauler truck.” We wish to comment as follows:
 
1. It is assumed that the “cold water based product” refers to a Bitumen emulsion at ambient temperature and the “oil based product” refers to Paving Grade Bitumen at an elevated temperature at 1650C?
2. The “incompatibility” issue here is that you do not add water or a water based product to HOT bitumen or vice versa. 
 
It should be clearly pointed out which specific products were involved in order to ensure that the immediate cause is appropriately highlighted.
 
Sabita
 

 

Position of the vehicles at the time of the incident

Position of the vehicles at the time of the incident

 

 

Extent of the bitument eruption

 

4. Lessons Learnt

  1. Supervisors should be visible for high risk tasks
     
  2. Develop safe operating procedures (SOPs) for bitumen loading and offloading, and ensure they are implemented by conducting regular planned task observations (PTOs)
     
  3. Additional training needs for BD operators to be identified, appropriate training to be conducted and competency assessed and documented
     
  4. Improve contractor management with specific emphasis on commercial agreements; SHE roles and responsibilities of all parties; supervision, hazard identification and risk assessments (HIRA)
     
  5. Inspections and audits to be conducted by SHE personnel on high risk activities, and implementing of corrective / preventive actions following significant incidents

 

5. Discussion points with work Teams

Supervisors, team leaders, foreman or persons with similar roles must use the following discussion points when discussing the case study with their staff.

  1. Are these types of injuries avoidable?
     
  2. What could have been done to prevent them?
     
  3. Could this incident happen here?
     
  4. What conditions need to change to prevent it happening?
     
  5. What personal behaviour needs to change?
     
  6. How can we look after our colleagues?
     
  7. Are there any other areas at any of our worksites where these events could happen?

[ This safety information was distributed to members with the request to ensure that all relevant people in the workplace receive a copy of the case study, and are informed of its contents and lessons learnt.]

Safety Information Illustrated:

Description Of Incident

Key Findings:

 

Lessons Learned:

 

Discussion Points:

Talk to employees about the incident and discuss the following points:
  1. Are these types of incidents and injuries avoidable?
  2. What could have been done to prevent them?
  3. Could this incident happen here?
  4. What conditions need to change to prevent it happening?
  5. What personal behaviour needs to change?
  6. How can we look after our colleagues, including subcontractors?
  7. Are there any other areas at any of our worksites where these events could happen?
  8. Do I know who to contact if such an event occurs?
[A word of appreciation to SAFCEC and Sabita for assitance received]
 
Also view:
 
Home  |  
Contact  |  
Browser  |  
Disclaimer  |  
CMS  |  
© 2017 - All Rights Reserved www.arrivealive.co.za