Safety alerts

Molten metal explosions

Risk from molten metal explosion due to water contamination

1  Who is affected?

This safety alert is for the attention of firms working with molten metal, and is being issued by HSE after discussions with HM Coroner following the inquest into the death of a worker from molten metal burns.

2  What is the risk?

A 24 year old Polish worker died from multiple organ failure after suffering 80% burns caused by a molten metal explosion which occurred at an induction furnace melting ferro-titanium. Water contamination of any molten metals can give rise to such explosions.

3  When can the risk arise?

Molten metal explosions of this type are a well known hazard. The inquest jury found that on this occasion the explosion was probably caused by water ingress into the furnace as a result of contaminated scrap held in a drum. All appropriate measures had not been taken to ensure that water, or other contamination which could cause an explosion, could not enter the furnace, in particular:

In addition, the deceased had not been wearing suitable molten metal protective equipment (PPE) which, the inquest jury concluded, significantly impaired his chances of survival. A number of witnesses stated that they, and others, did not wear the full PPE provided for those working at the furnace.

4  Recommended action

Employers should review their own arrangements to ensure that:

Employees should:

co-operate with their employer in following safe working practices and correct use of PPE

Molten metal explosions safety alert in other languages

Updated 2021-01-25