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December 2013

Safety Notes

Accident Report

Incident | Second and third degree burns
Business | Restaurant
Employee | Bartender

A bartender suffered serious burns at an upscale restaurant when a large container filled with alcohol shattered on the counter and generated a flash fire with nearby tea light candles.

The bartender was behind the bar mixing drinks for customers. At the back of the bar was one two-gallon container filled with an infusion of vodka, dried cherries, and 190-proof grain alcohol. The container was on a pedestal, surrounded by burning candles and bottles of other alcoholic beverages that the bartender used to make cocktails.

As the bartender turned to grab a bottle of liqueur for a cocktail, the bottle hit the two-gallon container. Moments later, the container shattered, splashing the contents over the bar, the candles, and the front of the bartender's body. A resulting flash fire sent flames 15 feet into the air, setting off heat sensors in the overhead sprinklers.

When the bartender realized he was on fire, he tried to climb over the bar as another employee tried unsuccessfully to subdue the flames on his clothing. As the bartender ran toward a back stairway, two customers restrained him and used their coats to put out the fire.

The sprinkler system eventually suppressed the bar fire and the bartender was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns over 18 percent of his body.

Applicable standards

1910.106(d)(2)(iii)(A): Flammable and combustible liquid containers shall be in accordance with Table H-12 (abbreviated). Table states that maximum allowable size of container should be one gallon for glass.

1910.106(d)(7)(iii): Open flames and smoking. Open flames and smoking shall not be permitted in flammable or combustible liquid storage areas.

437-001-0765(1): No safety committee, no monthly safety meetings, and no written records.


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