In this case scenario, I happened to witness and bear testimony to a road accident involving a truck laden with petro-chemicals. The driver apparently was driven at full speed and did not notice a warning on the roads. The vehicle skidded on the wet surface and fell into a dry ditch. Providentially, it did not catch fire but the impact broke a valve which began to leak the contents of the tanker.
I am an employee in the Environment Health and Safety (EH & S) organization on duty. I had to report the truck falling into a ditch on the side of the road with the whereabouts of its driver unknown.
Probable cause of accident
The accident might have been caused by the fuel laden vehicle skidding on wet road surface. Being an EH&S professional I have a greater responsibility to take action in this case. I was on the way to work, when suddenly I noticed a tanker truck that met with an accident. Apparently, the weight of its contents caused the vehicle to slip on wet road and it overturned and fell into a nearby ditch about 20-25 feet deep. In addition to the trucker tank I also saw a “Dangerous when wet “placard with a class 8 label code and a UN 1836 on an orange panel on it. (Case Scenario # 1, (n.d.)).
As far as the National Fire Protection Association is concerned, orange panel denotes reactivity. It means the tanker carries high reactive chemicals. At this critical juncture what I have to do is take necessary steps immediately. This vicinity is deserted for miles and there was little chance to notice this accident except for speeding vehicles. Necessary action should be taken at any cost and now it’s my responsibility to inform the authorities to send help and tow the vehicle to service station.
In the priority list, first of all, I have to think about endangered human life which, in this case could be the occupants of the truck. This should be my first consideration. The driver was nowhere in sight, which meant two possibilities; either the driver could have jumped off before the truck crashed or he could be trapped in the ditch inside his vehicle.
Secondly, I have to report leakage in the tanker and try to understand its danger. Oil slick could spark off a fire that could destroy the immediate environment and even spread to the locality. There is an agricultural field near the scene. If the chemical catch fire it will spread to the field also. This is also a major concern and needs to be avoided at all costs.
I noticed a leakage of a red or yellow colored liquid oozing from the valve of the tanker. The yellow color indicates the chemical. Fortunately there is no water in the ditch as it is summer. The winds could conflagrate a fire. (Case Scenario # 1, (n.d.)). Thus, there are also real environmental concerns in that spillage may carry to nearby agricultural field and cause major environmental hazards and pollution.
I have to contact the Hazardous Material Squad and Fire Department in the town. My cell phone and guide book will help me to contact fire rescue operators and the health care authorities. If I cannot reach out to specialized Hazardous Material squad in the town I have to contact the Hazardous Material Squad in my plant. (Case Scenario # 1, (n.d.)).
I also need to warn oncoming traffic to avoid that particular stretch of the road where the accident has taken place, by setting a partial road block and a makeshift warning sign. I could also wave down a passing vehicle to seek help for the accident from the nearest town from a fire station or a local towing center.
The fire department could arrange to hoist up the accident truck and arrange to have it towed. In addition I need to inform the nearest hospital who could arrange ambulatory services for the medical treatment of trapped and injured occupants, if any.
In addition to these actions I have another duty. It is to explain about the accident if there is a later enquiry. There is also a chance of the ignorance of the driver about the dangers of over speeding and ignoring road signs in these locales.
- It is seen that the National Fire Protection Association diamond shows 0 at 12 o’clock (red diamond) which may not be possible for petroleum products which this truck was carrying.
- The kind of slick that may occur is due to leakage of petro-chemicals which was being carried on the truck.
Case Scenario # 1. (n.d.). (provided by the customer).