SafeWork SA recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a worker sustained serious burns whilst using oxy-acetylene cutting equipment to cut a steel drum which previously contained flammable liquid.
The regulator is currently conducting an investigation into the incident, and said anyone working with oxy-acetylene cutting equipment or used storage containers should stop and think before performing any hot work on them.
It is important to consider if the container being used to store flammable liquid or gas, if it was a chemical drum, and if there is a hazard diamond on the drum.
If the contents of the drum or container are unknown, the alert said to avoid using hot cutting equipment.
If this is unavoidable, the following measures should be considered:
The reuse of flammable storage containers should be avoided
Containers must be properly disposed of
Do not perform hot work on or near flammable storage containers unless all existing sources of ignition have been eliminated or controlled, the contents have been neutralised and the container has been properly cleaned and certified vapour-free by a competent person
Always refer to the Safety Data Sheet and the manufacturer’s instructions and precautions before performing any work on a container
Always provide proper training and supervision to all staff so they understand the risks
Develop safe work processes to manage the hazard and ensure all staff understand and are properly trained on these processes.