Many people think of a refinery as a potential place for a flash fire, and many would have thought this hazard had been “engineered out” at this location.
Here is how things happen. Most of the engineering out of the hazard is for operations, but maintenance can often bypass, or render ineffective, the safety engineering. PPE is still critical, and thinking of maintenance in the design process of all hazardous environments and electrical systems is critical.
If you have combustible dust exposures or any flammable petrochemical (especially under pressure) in your workplace, do a proper hazard assessment and choose the proper NFPA 2112 PPE.
Most arc-rated garments also provide excellent flash fire protection and many are dual certified to ASTM F1506 (in compliance with NFPA 70E) and NFPA 2112.
See the Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) animation of the Exxon Refinery Fire as part of the Safety & Health Magazine’s article.
While the contractors and one employee in the area were hurt, the right PPE of NFPA 2112 garments prevented fatalities which would have occurred pre-1970’s when OSHA began to enforce flame resistant garments in refineries. Many other work environments have the same or similar hazards but fail to provide the proper clothing even today.
SEI (Safety Equipment Institute, a subsidiary of ASTM International, a not-for profit) and UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory, LLC, a for-profit company) both provide certification of garments and their components to NFPA 2112.