Puncture Wound from Handling Wood in an In-cell Contamination Area

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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, Idaho-AMWTP

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Operations, Work Management/Planning, Radiation Protection

Lesson Statement
Properly identify potential puncture hazards that could cause injury and personnel contaminations and remove/replace the material or identify the additional mitigations to protect employees. While moving a piece of wood in an in-cell contamination area, a Maintenance Technician (MT) received a puncture wound from a wood sliver. Although this was a minor injury that did not require medical attention, the injury could have been more serious and the MT could have been exposed to radioactive material and internal contamination. The incident resulted in a fact finding and the initiation of a Corrective Action Report (CAR).

While preparatory work was being conducted to move some heavy items, a MT was positioning an 8 foot long piece of 2 inch x 2 inch wood in a door track to allow transportation of material across the track. This was common practice for this work and had been occurring for some time. As the MT slid the wood into place, the wood moved through the MTs gloved hand when a 2-inch splinter from the wood penetrated the glove materials - five layers of gloves including a cotton liner, two layers of latex anti-C gloves, a rubber anti-C glove and an outer level three rated cut-resistant Dyneema glove.

The MT notified the job supervisor and proceeded to the exit point. The Radiological Control Technician (RCT) performed a radiological survey of the glove next to the sliver and detected 400 DPM alpha. The RCT removed the sliver with tweezers then removed the cut-resistant glove, the rubber anti-C glove and the outer latex anti-C glove. The RCT could now see another piece of the sliver. The site nurse arrived on-scene and directed the remaining latex glove be cut off leaving just the thumb portion. The thumb portion was then rolled off of the thumb leaving the sliver in place. The RCT surveyed the thumb and detected no contamination. The site nurse removed the final piece of sliver with a new set of tweezers, examined the puncture point and determined that the sliver had not penetrated all the layers of skin, that there was no blood, and that there was no need for medical treatment.

A survey of the sliver detected 181 DPM alpha and less than minimum detectable activity for beta. The MT was transported to a medical facility for a wound count which determined that no contamination was present.

The use of the two inch x two inch by eight foot piece of wood to bridge the gap in the door track had been successful in the past without incident and was assumed to be sufficient to ensure continued success. The edges of the wood had not been taped to prevent splintering. Punctures were not included as a potential hazard on the work control document and therefore appropriate Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) was not identified.

1. Evaluate work areas and activities where wood or other materials that could splinter could be handled; determine if it can be removed or if a safer material can be used in its place.
2. If wood or other material that could splinter must be used (especially within contamination areas), ensure edges are taped if possible.
3. Specifically identified additional hazard mitigations on the work control document. Mitigations may include hands-off tools or reach rods. If wood must be handled, use the highest level of protection possible to perform the work safely (i.e., puncture resistant gloves - level 3 or greater).

Contact: Roger Raymond, 208-557-6720, Roger.Raymond@amwtp.inl.gov

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