Linamar fined $200K after unprotected worker hit by furnace fireball
Labour Ministry says the worker was not wearing protective clothing or a shield, in violation of the law
A prominent car-parts maker in Guelph, Ont., has been fined $200,000 after a worker was hit by a furnace fireball. The incident at Linamar Corp., where automotive parts are manufactured, occurred in October 2018.
Ontario’s Labour Ministry says the worker was opening the furnace door to remove a part. A fireball erupted from the open doorway, burning him critically. It says the worker was not wearing protective clothing or a shield, in violation of the law.
Linamar was previously convicted for a death in 2005 and another critical injury in August 2008.
- On October 2, 2018 a worker was in the process of opening the furnace door to remove parts.
- Upon opening the door, a fireball erupted from the open doorway.
- In proper conditions, when the furnace door is open, the entrance to the furnace is fully blocked and covered by a fire curtain. The purpose of the fire curtain is to block and prevent oxygen from outside the furnace entering inside the furnace. The fire curtain maintains a controlled environment inside the furnace when the door is open.
- The fire curtain is lit by a pilot light which ignites the fire curtain prior to the door being opened.
- However, if the door is opened and the fire curtain is not lit, oxygen from outside is mixed with the controlled environment inside the furnace, which includes endothermic gas. The new gas mixture can be explosive.
- On this day, the fire curtain was not lit when the door was opened. This resulted in a fireball explosion. It is likely that a downdraft of air through the exhaust ventilation of the furnace hood blew out the pilot light.
- The explosion exposed the worker to radiant heat which is the transfer of heat through invisible electromagnetic infrared waves. The heat felt from a wood fireplace or the heat felt from a hot stovetop element are examples of radiant heat.
- The worker’s skin was not protected from the radiant heat by wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury, nor was the worker wearing a shield, screen or similar barrier.
- The worker suffered burn injuries.