Another incident involving a person attempting to recycle a used barrel results in death… How many times do we have to read such things before everyone knows to leave that to experts or at least combine some facts into reasonable actions?
- an “empty” barrel may contain a few drops of some flammable liquid and a lot of air,
- most liquids evaporate and come into equilibrium with a vapour in the space above the liquid,
- because the bung of the barrel is a restriction, such fumes may not dissipate even after years,
- the concentration of fumes in air may coincide with concentration required to combust,
- any welding, cutting or illumination operation may ignite the fumes causing an explosion of a large volume of a flammable mixture, and
- a barrel being orders of magnitude larger than a balloon may not contain an explosion within, and
- the human body is frail being subject to death by blood loss, cessation of circulation by impact, or damage to the central nervous system to say nothing of other serious injuries resulting from burns, cuts and penetrating wounds.
Still, it keeps happening. People think of the resource a discarded barrel provides but neglect obvious dangers resulting from former contents and welding and cutting operations. Sometimes even accumulation of welding gasses in a barrel can be fatal if a cutting torch sneezes.
The solution is simple. Fill the damned thing with inert gasses, water, sand, etc. before cutting into it. What’s a life worth compared to the few minutes of time it takes to do any of these things?
I wrote about a similar event in a school a while back…