No charges in O'Leary welding accident

No charges will be laid following a welding accident in O'Leary last month, according to the Workers Compensation Board of PEI.

Vance Easter has been in hospital since Sept. 24

No charges will be laid following a welding accident in O’Leary last month, according to the Workers Compensation Board of PEI.

Occupational health and safety officials have wrapped up their preliminary investigation.

Vance Easter, a 54-year-old certified welder, was severely burned on Sept. 24 while working alone in the shop he owns, Western Welding. 

"The worker was using a cutting torch which was propane and oxygen fed and the hoses came in contact most likely with the hot metal and caused a hole in it, releasing the gases which then ignited and it had caught the worker's clothes on fire," said Bill Reid, manager of the occupational health and safety division of the PEI Workers Compensation Board.

Brian Chandler said as a welder, the potential for an accident is always at the front of his mind.

He said when he heard what had happened at Easter's shop, he was shaken.

"I can almost picture that happening because that's a fear you have to be careful with — the hoses are rubber, the metal's red hot when you're cutting and if you drag your hose across, it doesn't take much for it to cut through the hose. And you can have quite a fire with the gases mixed together," said Chandler, who runs Chandler’s Welding in Winslow, P.E.I.

Easter is still in hospital. A benefit for him is planned for this weekend in Bloomfield.

The board will take steps to try to prevent similar accidents from happening.

The board said anyone working in these conditions should be wearing flame retardant coveralls and propane tanks should be equipped with excess flow valves that stop the flow of gas when there's a leak.

"This type of system is used in many shops across the Island, from farms to automotive shops to welding shops, so we want to get the message out there because it is a common practice to use this type of equipment, and we want to make sure everyone's safe doing it," Reid said.

Western Welding's website says the original shop was destroyed by fire in 1999.