Canberra car park explosion prompts gas cylinder safety reminder

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Following the death of a man in Canberra last week, WorkSafe ACT is reminding people about the safe storage and transportation of gas cylinders.

Work Safety Commissioner Greg Jones said early investigations into the incident which claimed the life of a 51-year-old man indicated that an acetylene gas bottle had leaked into a compartment at the back of a work ute.  An ignition source then caused an explosion tragically killing the driver who was standing next to the vehicle.

“WorkSafe ACT continue to work with ACT Policing investigating this tragic incident and our thoughts remain with the friends, family, and colleagues impacted,” Mr. Jones said.

“Acetylene is a fuel gas which when combined with oxygen is generally used for welding, cutting, localised heating, and flame hardening.

“Acetylene and other flammable gas cylinders including oxygen, propane, and butane, are commonly transported in vehicles by tradespersons such as plumbers and construction workers involved in refrigeration, welding and gas fitting and other similar activities.

“In addition, householders commonly transport their LPG gas cylinders when they get their BBQ bottle swapped or refilled.

“If there is a leak of gas then any ignition source – often the vehicle’s electrical system, it can cause a significant explosion.”

Mr. Jones said that when transporting or storing flammable gas cylinders people should ensure cylinder valves are tightly closed, the regulator, hoses, and torch are disconnected and cylinders are secured in an upright position.

He said it was important to ensure cylinders cannot be struck by other objects (such as loose tools or other materials) during transport, no leakage around the main valve area (test with detector or soapy water); and you are carrying a dry powder fire extinguisher.

He said gas cylinders must not be carried in the passenger compartment of any vehicle and good ventilation was essential.

“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,” he said.

“Finally, 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,” he concluded.

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