This is the second installment of this safety alert! series, in which we’re exploring the valuable lessons to be learned from the near misses, accidents and safety issues described in Enform’s safety alerts.

In this week’s post we’re looking at an injury incident in which a pressure truck operator was sprayed with hot produced water from a field production tank.

The situation

The operator was rigging up to load produced hot water onto a pressure truck. This would usually be done using a portable safety device, which has a bypass valve to check for pressure so that the fitting can’t be disconnected too soon.

Unfortunately, the safety device had a fitting incompatible with the load valve, so the operator chose to use a changeover fitting from his truck. As the hot water was being transferred, the hose came loose and sprayed the driver. Despite his injuries, he was able to secure the tank at the main valve and stop the flow.

hot water valve

The right equipment for the job

No one wants to give up on a job because of a minor problem with equipment. So it probably seemed like a natural decision to find an alternative when the safety device didn’t fit. But the driver quickly learned that safety equipment isn’t an optional extra. Here’s what went wrong:

  • The fitting pre-installed onto the tank load valve prevented the worker from using the safety device.
  • When the operator decided to follow a non-standard procedure to circumvent the problem, he eliminated safeguards which would have prevented a release of the hot water.
  • The hose separated from the tank load valve because of the lack of a pressure monitor.

What we learned

  • When transferring hot liquids, portable safety devices must be used if there are no integral safety fittings.
  • If safety devices are unavailable, or unusable for any reason, the job should be stopped.
  • Rather than trying to come up with an alternative, the driver should have notified dispatch that the job could not be completed.

Like so many of the incidents shared in safety alerts, the only safe course of action here would have been to stop the job, and to continue only when the proper equipment was available.

You can read the full report in this alert: ‘Individual scalded during heated produced fluids transfer’.

In the first Safety alert! post you can find out how a hazardous gas release almost took a life. Stay tuned as we continue to share the important safety lessons to be taken from Enform’s safety alerts.