Serious Incident: Driller's helper loosens cap on pressurized system

Safety Alert Type: 
Road Building/Deactivation
BC Southern Interior (near Nakusp)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Galena Contractors Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A Driller's Helper was checking the water reservoir level on a tank drill but forgot to relieve the pressure built up in the system before removing the pressure cap. Just before the Drillers Helper had finished loosening the cap, it flew off its fitting and struck the worker's hard hat with such force that it knocked it off his head and into the air. The hard hat landed about 10 metres away from the worker, and the water reservoir cap landed some 20 metres away from its fitting.

The driller's helper sustained minor facial injuries (cut / bruised lip) and received on-site first aid (cleaned wound and applied band-aid).

This incident could have led to very serious injuries to the young worker.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

The young worker was interviewed during the incident investigation, and he was asked why he didn't relieve the system pressure with the relief valve before removing the reservoir cap. He said that although he had carried out the process a number of times prior to the incident, this time he was in a hurry and had forgotten to relieve the pressure first.

The young worker had participated in an initial Employee Orientation when he was hired but because this incident had the potential to cause serious injury and directly involved a young worker (under 26 years old), the young worker received another thorough, documented employee orientation with emphasis placed on reminding the worker to think before taking action.

The company decided that although the young worker had forgotten the safe work practice of checking the water reservoir safely, the company should re-assess the hazard and develop better controls to eliminate or reduce the hazard. The hazard could not be eliminated or substituted, so administrative controls were developed and implemented.

Those controls were:

  1. Develop pressurized system hazard warning labels and attach those labels beside areas of pressurized liquid systems that can be readily depressurized.
  2. Develop a dedicated Safe Work Practice (SWP) - "Pressurized Liquid Systems Safety" and incorporate the SWP into the company's Safety Management System.
  3. Ensure that all company personnel who are involved with pressurized liquid systems maintenance / repairs / work practices are trained to do so safely and are provided with relevant, documented Safe Work Practices.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Galena Contractors Ltd. Safety Coordinator - Dak Giles Phone: (250) 353-8978

File attachments
Careers | Contact Us | Top | Privacy Statement | Terms and Conditions | Contact Us | YouTube twitter facebook
Copyright © 2006-2019 BC Forest Safety Council.