The Event: On June 28, 2007 a contract vacuum truck was participating in clean up operations at the Nexen Balzac Complex. Workers were sucking solid sulphur off the ground using 3” & 4” remote hoses. When the work was completed the vac truck operator proceeded to clean debris from a 6”
valve on the vac truck tank. Using his gloved hand while the vac truck was still under vacuum the operator’s hand/arm was sucked into the 6” valve on the vacuum tank unit trapping him. The ESD for
the tank could not be used as the valve would have closed on his arm. A co-worker heard the vac truck operator’s screams for assistance and he ran over to the unit to shut off the equipment and release the suction. The vac truck operator did not receive any injuries; however, this event very easily could have resulted in a severe injury.
Limb Safety: Your hands allow you to perform a variety of tasks that makes
you a skilled and valuable worker. Just imagine the difficulty life itself would
be if you lost an arm or leg. The first step to “hand & arm” safety is
preventing hand/arm injuries, be aware of the hazards! Hand/arm accidents
are usually caused by boredom, inattentiveness or distractions in the
workplace and by not thinking of what can go wrong before it goes wrong.
Always remember to be alert and extra cautious when working with or in the
area that have the following hazards; Pinch Points, Hot Spots, Rotating
Machines, Automated Machinery, Loose Clothing.
Vacuums are hazardous: Operators need to realize that vacuums (like pressure) can be very hazardous to life & limb.
Hose diameter is very important: Operators
need to understand the importance of changing
from one hose size to another and the impact of
their decisions. Just how much impact can a slight
change in hose diameter make? A 50 % change
in hose size can change operating dynamics by as
much as nine times.
Emergency Shut Down: All DOT certified vacuum trucks and hydrovac units are equipped with 2 emergency shut down devices (ESD):
1) A large labeled push button ESD switch on the driver’s side of the unit. Activation of this ESD
will close all the valves to the vacuum tank releasing vacuum pressure from any hoses or
fittings connected to vacuum tank. For the hydrovac units, the ESD closes the boom hose
valve thus removing vacuum from dig tube suction line.
2) All diesel vacuum truck and hydrovac units are equipped with a manual shut off (kill) switch
located in the cab plus an RPM limiting shut off (positive air shut-off). All ESD devices related to a vacuum truck or a hydrovac truck should be outlined in the Nexen Worksite Hazards Assessment or a JSA for all personnel to be aware of when working around these units.
Points to Remember:
; The tank is a confined space! An operator may be handling hazardous materials. If he enters
the tank to make a repair, he might be overcome by fumes. There is only one way in and one
way out of the tank, so it is a confined space in the truest sense. Don’t enter a tank without the
appropriate procedures, backup & PPE.
; Always ground the truck! Grounding is important for any product an operator uses. You might
be sucking contaminated muds or hydrocarbons and static electricity could trigger an explosion.
Air movers should never be used on anything being removed with a temperature flash point of o140F or less. This has been accepted as an industry standard.
; Driving Safety is always extremely important! Drivers need to be alert when driving any
vehicle, especially a vac truck. A loaded vac truck takes longer to stop and get up to highway
speed than other vehicles. Be aware of others in the plant as it can be congested. Never
back up your vac truck without having constant visual contact with your spotter as they direct
you, or get out of the cab and look over the situation before backing up.
Please do not hesitate if you have any questions or concerns with this safety alert or any other health & safety issue.
Mike Rydl CRSP
Senior Safety Coordinator
Health Safety Environment & Social Responsibility
Nexen, Balzac Complex
T: 403-226-3130, C: 403-650-3538, F: 403-699-7808
Safety. It's not just talk!