Safety Alert: Woods Worker Burned at Warming Fire

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On a cold, fall morning in the Southeast, a logging crew arrived at the jobsite while it was still dark. They decided to build a warming fire while they awaited daylight.


The logging crew member who built the fire was 31 years old. His previous safety training and accident history are unknown.


The wood fire in the burn barrel was burning very slowly. The crew member grabbed what he thought was a container of diesel fuel and poured some of the diesel fuel into the fire. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that the gas station where they filled the diesel can that morning had gasoline pumped into the holding tank by the vendor— thus filling gasoline in the portable container.


When the gasoline contacted the fire, it flashed back at the crew member and burned him.


The crew member sustained severe burns to the hand and face.

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While OSHA allows flammable and combustible liquids, including chainsaw fuel and diesel fuel, for use in starting a fire (if the employer assures that this does not create a hazard for an employee), OSHA regulations prohibit the adding of flammable and combustible liquids to existing fires. Better to be safe than to be burned; do not try to accelerate a fire with flammable or combustible liquids.

A fire extinguisher should be readily accessible at any warming fire.

Put the correct fuel into properly labeled containers. Do not use fluids to start a fire if you do not know what is in the container.

All employees should be trained in first aid, including knowledge of how to treat burns until medical attention can be provided.

Source: Forest Resources Association