05:47 pm, Friday 12 March, 2010
A hotel at Biguerra near Colac has been directed to install an alarm in its cellar alerting anyone coming in of any carbon dioxide leaks.
WorkSafe issued an Improvement Notice to the hotel following the death of a man in its cellar while delivering beer kegs yesterday. The safety watchdog is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the man’s death.
Inspectors barred anyone from entering the cellar yesterday until it was deemed safe.
According to WorkSafe, carbon dioxide from a gas cylinder could have possibly leaked in the cellar.
The gas cylinders storing carbon dioxide and nitrogen are used for carbonating beer and soft drinks. It can be unsafe if leaks occur in a confined space. Other points in the system like pipe fittings can also develop leaks.
An alarm system can warn people of any gas leak and alert them not to enter the room.
According to WorkSafe Acting Executive Director for Health and Safety Stan Krpan, carbon dioxide and nitrogen can be hazardous substances.
“If cylinders containing these gases are stored in a semi-confined or enclosed environment like a cellar, accidental leakage is always a potential risk – no matter how well they are maintained,” he said.
“Carbon dioxide gas and low oxygen monitoring and alarm systems are the best way to prevent walking into a potential death trap.
“For workplaces using both nitrogen and carbon dioxide systems, we recommend a dual carbon dioxide and oxygen monitoring and alarm system. For those only using carbon dioxide, a carbon dioxide monitoring and alarm system is needed. This is a mandatory expectation unless the employer can provide a risk assessment that indicates otherwise.
“Alarm systems and the equipment itself need to be closely maintained and tested regularly. Staff need to be trained so they know what to do if the alarm goes off.
“This isn’t just an issue for local pubs – small and large organisations across industry have a responsibility to make sure workers are safe,” he said.