Safety Protocols

The Energy Division recently communicated this Safety moment to their employees.    


Hand Sanitizer/Fire Hazard:

I received a notice recently about an incident that occurred while using hand sanitizer. In no way should this deter anyone from using hand sanitizer, rather, it is to make you aware of the potential risks and hazards, and to make sure everyone is using it correctly. 


What Happened:

A contractor employee (not XYZ related) used an 80% alcohol-based hand sanitizer as recommended by their company’s COVID-19 plan.  Just after the application to his hands and before the hand sanitizer evaporated and completely dried, the worker touched a metal surface. Unfortunately, the metal surface had accumulated a static electricity charge, which acted as an ignition source and the ethyl-alcohol-based hand sanitizer flashed, resulting in an almost invisible blue flame in both hands. The contractor employee managed to extinguish the flames, but not before he sustained first and second-degree burns to both hands.


Potential Cause(s)

1. Hand sanitizers contain high concentrations of alcohol to kill germs.  Once the hand sanitizer was applied, the worker did not make sure it had completely dried before proceeding with his work.

2. Alcohol vapors can flame or flash if exposed to an ignition source, switches, or any surface containing static electricity.


Corrective/Preventative Actions

1. If available, wash your hands with soap and water as your first defense. Use alcohol-based sanitizers only when soap and water are not readily available.

2. When using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, be sure to allow the sanitizer to completely dry and evaporate before resuming work.

3. Avoid touching any surface until the gel has completely dried. Stay away from any potential ignition source while the sanitizer is still wet.

4. The amount of hand sanitizer needed is equivalent to the size of a dime. Don't overdo it, it will take longer to dry!