Gas explosion

Incident

6 August 2018

A tragic death occurred outside a south side Canberra school late on 2 August 2018 following a gas explosion sourced from a work vehicle. Preliminary investigations indicate that an acetylene gas bottle leaked into a compartment at the back of a work ute and an ignition source has caused an explosion tragically killing the driver who was standing next to the vehicle.

The ACT Work Safety Commissioner has issued this safety alert as a timely reminder to everyone regarding the storage and transportation of gas cylinders.

Background

Flammable gas cylinders, including oxygen, acetylene, LPG, propane and butane are commonly transported in vehicles. If there is a leak of gas then any ignition source, often the vehicle’s electrical system, can cause a significant explosion.

Checks

When transporting or storing flammable gas cylinders good ventilation is essential.

You should ensure:

  • cylinder valves are tightly closed;
  • the regulator, hoses and torch are disconnected;
  • cylinders are secured in an upright position;
  • cylinders cannot be struck by other objects (such as loose tools or other materials) during transport;
  • there is no leakage around the main valve area (test with detector or soapy water);
  • carry a dry powder fire extinguisher. and

Vehicles

Transport in open-type vehicles is preferred where unrestricted ventilation is provided. Some gases are heavier than air so care should be taken to ensure that there is not any low points where leaked gases can accumulate or pool.

Gas cylinders must not be carried in the passenger compartment of any vehicle.

If cylinders must be carried in closed areas of vehicles, a storage cabinet with outlets in the base of the cabinet vented outside the vehicle must be used. Purpose built gas storage cabinets are available from various gas and safety gear outlets.

Staff and training

Ensure persons using or transporting gas cylinders are appropriately trained and instructed on the proper handling, storage and transport of gas cylinders including emergency procedures.

Further information

For further information contact WorkSafe ACT on 13 22 81 or email WorkSafe@act.gov.au.

This Alert contains information emerging during an investigation by WorkSafe ACT into the mentioned incident at the date of this report. The information contained in this report does not necessarily reflect the final outcome of WorkSafe’s views or proposed actions with respect to this incident. WorkSafe ACT does not warrant the information in this report is complete or up-to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report, or its use.

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