Spray painting company convicted over explosion incident that burned worker

Worksite Fire Explosion Truck Fire Gas

A spray painting company in Wodonga has been convicted and fined $25,000 after a vacuum cleaner being used to clean up flammable liquid triggered an explosion in a confined space, injuring a worker.

The company pleaded guilty this week in the Wodonga Magistrate’s Court to one charge of failing to provide a safe system of work by failing to identify the risk of fire explosion associated with the introduction of a potential ignition source into a confined space.

On 8 July 2016 a worker was inside an electrical transformer tank preparing it for painting. After applying a flammable solvent to wipe down the interior of the transformer, the manager removed excess liquid from the base using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. He restarted the vacuum and it triggered an explosion.

The victim received superficial burns to his face and neck, and deep tissue burns to both hands and was airlifted to Melbourne for treatment.

“Working with flammable chemicals is high-risk task and working in confined spaces also has its own dangers,” said WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams.

“Employers have a clear duty to ensure that work which involves entering confined spaces is identified and that appropriate safety controls are put in place.

“They also need to ensure that the equipment used around dangerous goods especially flammable materials with low flash points, does not heighten that risk.”

The company was also ordered to pay $3430 costs.

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