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  • ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT ON MOLTEN METAL INCIDENTS FOR 2017

    October 2018

    For the year 2017, 181 reports were received on incidents occurring world-wide compared to

    195 reports received for 2016 and 174 reports for 2015. The attached figures summarize the

    reports for 2017 as well as the data for the years 1980 thru 2017.

    SUMMARY POINTS:

     For 2017, there were 181 explosion incidents reported, which is the second highest

    number of incidents ever reported in a calendar year and very close to the record year

    of 2016 with 195 reports.

     There were 157 Force 1 explosions, 24 Force 2 explosions and zero Force 3 explosion

    reported in 2017. The 24 Force 2 incidents was the highest amount over the past 10

    years.

     Although 2017 had the second highest number of reported incidents, there were only 8

    minor injuries reported and no serious injuries or fatalities reported. This is the lowest

    number of injuries ever reported since the Aluminum Association starting collecting

    incident data from 1981! There are probably a number of reasons for this record

    number of low injuries in 2017, even with a very high incident rate, but contributors

    likely include 1) the increased use of primary and secondary PPE 2) improvements in

    PPE materials and design, and 3) an increased focus on hands-free casting operations

    that remove personnel from high risk casting operations.

     There have been no fatalities reported in the last three years and only 2 over the past 9

    years, which is well below the average of 2.5 fatalities per year reported from 1981 thru

    2017.

     It should be noted that although reports are received globally, there were news and

    media reports in 2017 of serious molten metal explosions with possible fatalities that

    occurred outside of North America, however despite the Aluminum Association’s

    efforts to obtain reports, no reports were received on these incidents and they are

    therefore not reflected in the data.

     The trend of a reduced number of Force 3 incidents over the past 10 years has continued

    in 2017. For both the past 10 years and past 5 years the average number of Force 3

    explosions per year is only 0.6 Force 3 incidents / yr. This is compared to an average of

    3.1 Force 3 explosions per year for the entire length of the program, 1981 through 2017.

  •  A notable downward trend of Force 2 explosions observed from 2006 through 2014 was

    reversed in 2016 with a jump to 18 Force 2 explosions and continued into 2017 with 24

    Force 2 incidents.

     As is typical of previous years, in 2017 the highest number of incidents were reported

    in Reduction process plants – 84 incidents with 6 injuries of the 8 total minor injuries.

     Most explosions occurred in the casting area as typical in the past; 64 Force 1 and 11

    Force 2. Reported melting incidents was close to this, with 60 Force 1 and 8 Force 2.

     Historically there have been more Melting incidents than in any other process category,

    but this trend has been reversed in recent years with more Casting explosions than

    Melting explosions. Currently the total number of Casting and Melting incidents are

    about equal for the entire reporting period beginning in the early 1980’s.

     For the years 1981 thru 2017, Force 2 explosions have occurred at an average rate of

    22.2/yr., so 2017 was not significantly different from the overall average with 24 Force

    2 incidents. However, compared to the past 5- and 10-year averages of 12.8/yr. and 14.6

    / yr. respectively, 2017 was significantly higher.

     Most casting explosions occurred at start-up, as has been the norm; 63 of the 68

    incidents which had this information provided. All Force 2 casting incidents (11)

    occurred during start-up. DC casting and sow / mold casting accounted for 37 incidents

    each.

     As is typical of past years, most melting explosions occurred due to wet or contaminated

    scrap, 49 of the 68 incidents with 5 being Force 2. The second highest reason for melting

    explosions was related to tools and drain or skim pans; three of the 8 reports were Force

    2.

     Most injuries, three of the 8, occurred during transfer operations. Typically, in the past,

    most injuries have been in the casting operation.

    EXPLANATION & DISCUSSION OF CHARTS AND DATA:

    The Aluminum Association classifies molten metal explosions according to Force level, with

    Force 1 being the least severe and Force 3 being the most severe. Table 1 below provides

    information on the criteria used for rating Force level. Figures 1 through Figure 32 display

    various charts and tables as described in the discussion below and are provided after the

    discussion.

  • Table 1:

    Explosion Rating Force Criteria

    LOW SEVERE

    Figure 1 displays by year from 1981 thru 2017 the total number of reported incidents, 3716. The

    181 explosions reported in 2017 is the second highest number of incidents reported in a year and

    continues the upward trend of explosions reported over the past 6 years. The years from 2000

    through 2007 continue to stand out with over 110 explosions reported in each of these eight

    years with an average rate of 145 explosions. 2015 thru 2017, however, average even higher, at

    183 explosions.

    Figures 2 thru 7 provide Force Level data for the years 1981 thru 2017 in various formats,

    including the number of incidents and rates. Figure 2 displays the reported incidents each year

    for all three Force Levels. In 2017 there were 157 Force 1, 24 Force 2 and 0 Force 3 explosions.

    The 24 Force 2 explosions in 2017 is the highest number at this force level over the past 10 years.

    Figure 3 shows the data for only Force Levels 2 and 3 and Figure 4 displays only Force Level 3.

    Both Figure 3 and Figure 4 include the average number of explosions per year for this time frame.

    It is important to note that the average number of Force 3 explosions per year for the last 5 and

    10 years is 0.6 / yr., which is well below the average of 3.1 / yr. for the entire reporting history

    from 1981 through 2017. A notable downward trend of Force 2 explosions observed in Figure 5

    from 2006 through 2014 was reversed in 2016 with a jump to 18 Force 2 explosions and

    continued into 2017 with 24 Force 2 incidents.

    Figures 6 and 7 display a comparison of all three Force Levels for the entire reporting history

    from 1981 through 2017 in two different formats: 1) bar graph and 2) pie chart. Force 1 incidents

    account for 74.7% of all incidents, while Force 2 incidents account for 22.2% of the total

    compared to 3.1% for Force 3.

    Guidelines Force 1 Force 2 Force 3

    Property Damage None Minor Considerable

    Light Minimal Flash Intense

    Sound Short cracking Loud Report Painful

    Vibration Short and sharp Brief rolling Massive structural

    Metal Dispersion 15 to 50 feet >50 feet

  • Figures 8 thru 12 provide in various formats injury incident data (Minor, Serious and Fatal) for

    the years 1981 thru 2017. The Figure 8 bar chart shows Minor, Serious and Fatal injuries for each

    year. There was a total of only 8 injuries reported in 2017, all Minor. There have been no

    Fatalities reported in the last three years and only 2 over the past 9 years. Also, the 8 injuries

    reported in 2017 was the lowest total for any year since the reporting program started in the

    early 1980’s. The 18 injuries reported in 2016 is the second lowest number ever reported. The

    previous 5 years (2011 - 2015), averaged 33.6 injuries per year.

    Figure 9 shows the total injuries in each of these categories from 1981 through 2017. From the

    Figure 10 pie chart, 70.0% of all injuries are Minor, with 24.2% being Serious and 5.8% being

    Fatal. The % of minor injuries continues to increase compared to the Serious and Fatal injuries.

    Figure 11 looks at the % of injuries for each injury category per the total number of reported

    incidents. This indicates that for each 100 incidents reported there is a 29% rate for Minor

    injuries, a 10% rate for Serious injuries and a 2.5% rate of a Fatality. Since explosions are typically

    more likely to be reported when there is an injury of some degree, these numbers are certainly

    inflated compared to the situation if all explosions were reported, but this does provide an

    indication of the potential rate of an injury per incident.

    Figure 12 displays data only related to Fatalities. As indicated above there were no Fatalities

    reported in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There have been only two fatalities reported over the past 9

    years, which is well below the average of 2.5 fatalities per year reported from 1981 thru 2017.

    It should be noted that although reports are received globally, there were news and media

    reports in 2017 of serious molten metal explosions with possible fatalities that occurred outside

    of North America, however despite the Aluminum Association’s efforts to obtain reports, no

    reports were received on these incidents and they are therefore not reflected in the data.

    Figures 13 thru

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