Cigarette Lighter Starts Fire
Two employees were seriously burned while working in
an automobile garage. The employees had begun to hand
clean the vehicle after spraying it all over with a flammable
cleaning solvent. According to the manufacturer's
instructions, the proper use of the solvent was to pour
it on a cloth and rub over the surface of the vehicle. The
combination of improper use of the flammable cleaning
solvent and insufficient exhaust ventilation created an
explosive atmosphere in the garage, which was ignited
when an employee lit a cigarette. The resulting explosion
and fire grew quickly because the flammable solvent and
other chemicals were stored in the same garage bay.
Recommended Preventive Action
- Never keep more than one day’s supply of chemicals in your
immediate work area.
- Store and mix chemicals in a well-ventilated chemical storage
room separate from the work area.
- All employees who use or work in the vicinity of controlled
products must be trained by a competent person in Workplace
Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS).
- Employers shall ensure that employees receive training and
instruction on the specific controlled products used in the
- Follow manufacturer instructions located on product labels or
- Review with staff and make available for future reference all
Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) pertaining to controlled products used
in the workplace. New products must be reviewed with staff
- Enforce strict no-smoking policies in areas where flammable
chemicals are used or stored.
- Keep ignition sources, including electricity, away from flammable
- Mechanical ventilation is required to ensure employees are
not exposed to chemical concentrations above the allowable
Threshold Limit Values (TLV), and to prevent the build-up of
- Fire extinguishers must be readily available, and a fire evacuation
plan should be developed and posted.
- First aid supplies and a trained first aider must be on site.