Boiler explosions can occur when there is excessive pressure. When the boiler can no longer contain the excessive pressure, it explodes. Excessive pressure accidents can completely destroy a building. Fuel-related explosions can occur when there is a failure to purge combustible gases from the firebox before ignition is attempted. Leaking fuel valves can also be the cause of boiler explosions. In some cases, an explosion can be caused when the boiler is allowed to operate without adequate water. Injury and wrongful death from an explosion can be caused by the initial shock wave, flying pieces of debris, steam, and heat.
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Causes of Boiler Explosions
- Design and manufacture. When a boiler explosion injury or death is caused by a flaw in the design and/or manufacture of a boiler, there may be a product liability claim against the manufacturer, the owner of the boiler, and others. These claims are strict liability claims, meaning the injured party does not have to prove that there was negligence on the part of the manufacturer. Design flaws could include improper material selection, poor structure design, lack of safety accessories, etc. Manufacturing defects could include poor assembly, inadequate testing, inadequate inspection, etc.
- Management. When a boiler explosion injury or death is caused by improper management, the company or companies responsible for this, including the owner of the boiler, the owner of the building, and others, may be liable. Improper management can include failure to provide safety equipment, failure to provide the necessary water, failure to prevent excessive pressure, failure to monitor, failure to detect a problem, or failure to operate the boiler in the manner prescribed by the manufacturer.
- Maintenance and Repair. When an injury or death is caused by maintenance and/or repair, the company or companies responsible for this, including the owner of the boiler, the owner of the building, and others, may be liable. Several causes may contribute to the boiler explosion and the severity of injuries. In many cases, more than one company is found liable for the injuries or death.
Loy-Lange Box Company Explosion
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is investigating an incident at Loy-Lange Box Company in St. Louis, Missouri, that resulted in three deaths and four others who were seriously injured, including severe burns. One of the three people who died was an employee, and the two others were killed when the boiler flew through the air and landed on another building, Faultless Linen, a laundry facility.
The investigation into the April 3, 2017, incident will try determine why a hot water storage tank, initially referred to as a “boiler,” exploded. The three investigators will also look at whether any regulations were violated, whether industry standards were followed, and if the safety protocols in place at the company were followed. Updated information released May 25, 2017, said there is evidence that the pressure vessel, which had a history of leaks, had ruptured.
NDK Crystal Manufacturing Company
CSB also investigated a December 7, 2009, explosion at the NDK Crystal manufacturing company in Belvidere, Illinois, that also involved a pressure vessel. In this case, the walls were severely corroded and that piece of equipment had not been inspected for years, the CSB found. A truck driver at a nearby gas station was killed by debris.
Boiler Explosion Examples
- An employee is cleaning the outside of a boiler when it explodes. The employee is struck by shrapnel from the boiler and knocked to the ground.
- Two employees of a demolition company are disassembling a boiler when an explosion occurs. The employees were told that the gas line had been properly disconnected, but it is determined that there was still natural gas running to the boiler.
- An employee of a company suffers severe burns and lacerations when a boiler explodes nearby where he was working.
- Two employees are killed when a firebox explodes as they try to light a boiler.
- An employee of a food processing plant is transporting pallets of food products when she sees an explosion in the boiler room in front of her. She covers her face right before she experiences the impact. Her arms are burned, and her body is struck by shrapnel from the explosion.
- Two co-workers are restarting a boiler when it explodes. One of the employees sustains a fatal blunt force trauma when he is thrown into another structure by the explosion blast. The other employee is taken to the hospital to receive treatment for burns and other injuries.
- While a person is thawing a frozen sewer line, the steamer boiler explodes, killing the person.