Workers in regional and rural NSW are warned of the dangers when dealing with gas cylinders used for fire suppression systems.
This comes following a recent Safety Alert from Work Cover NSW that tells the story of a demolition worker who received significant injuries stemming from a gas cylinder explosion.
The gas cylinders, different from those used in industrial and refrigeration, are fitted with a mechanism that empties the contents to extinguish a fire. Once that mechanism has been activated it can’t be stopped or controlled, which is dangerous for anyone working with it or nearby.
The worker suffered broken ribs, bruising and punctures when a cylinder released its pressure unexpectedly and hit the employee.
It is important to note the pressure of the cylinder can be between 2,000 and 20,000 kPa and amount of locked pressure can travel at high speeds if released. Work Cover NSW states in the safety alert that this could break through a brick wall or even cause serious injury or death.
The hazardous gas inside can also cause issues such as asphyxiation, eye and throat problems and even death.
While this is an isolated incident, workers who are injured in this way at work could be eligible for compensation. As well as reporting the occurrence to the relevant authorities, employees are urged to seek legal advice from a lawyer who can assist with any possible claim.
There are a number of actions and control measures that Work Cover NSW suggests workers who deal with gas cylinders should take.
- Every cylinder in a workplace, no matter how big or small, should be appropriately labelled. This includes the pressure rate, use by date and handling instructions.
- The room that houses the cylinders should contain warning signs and lights that can tell workers when one has depressurised or is leaking.
- Teach employees the difference and danger of these gas cylinders compared to typical fire sprinklers. Workers should also be taught correct handling procedures when moving the cylinder as it can easily be set off.
- The cylinders should be securely strapped in place on the wall and if they need to be removed or replaced, it is advised to contact a fire service company that can deal with it in a professional manner.
The compensation lawyers available for rural and regional workers operate on a no win no fee basis so they can advise you on your chances for success free of charge – if they think you have a case, it’s completely up to you whether you engage their services.