NT WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert highlighting the risk gas explosions from poorly designed built-in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) barbeques that do not have adequate ventilation.
The alert was issued following two gas explosions which have occurred within the past 18 months involving built-in barbeques that have caused injuries to either the operator or nearby bystanders.
In the first incident, a young guest at a holiday apartment received burns when a family member attempted to start a gas barbeque, igniting the LPG that had built up in the compartment underneath.
In the second incident, a worker using the barbeque facility at his workplace accommodation received burns to approximately 30 per cent of his body after LPG ignited when the worker started the barbeque.
The alert said there were a number of possible contributing factors:
LPG is heavier than air, and gas leaking from a bottle will stay low to the ground and accumulate in an enclosed area if there is poor ventilation.
In both incidents, the built-in barbeques were housed in poorly designed compartments with inadequate ventilation around the barbeque appliance, gas cylinder and associated regulator and piping.
In the first incident, the gas bottles were stored in an enclosed compartment under the barbeque appliance, with the ventilation points built near the top of the compartment. LPG had leaked and accumulated in the compartment.
In the second incident, the barbeque facility was enclosed by a 1-metre high brick wall, with exception of a small entryway. LPG had leaked and accumulated in the barbeque area because of the brick wall.
The operators in both incidents did not check for gas leaks before starting (igniting) the barbeques.
The alert recommended a number of required actions:
Facility managers and commercial property owners with built-in LPG barbeque facilities should immediately check their manufacturer’s built-in housing design requirements to see if ventilation, installation and operational requirements have been met.
Gas barbeques that have not been designed by the manufacturer to be installed as a built-in facility should not be used until checked by a licensed NT gasfitter.
And before installing a built-in barbeque:
Make sure the barbeque has been designed for built-in installation and make sure the manufacturer’s built-in housing design requirements have been followed.
Always use a licensed NT gasfitter to install and maintain any gas appliance.
Ensure the area for the barbeque facility has adequate fresh air and flow-through ventilation.
Do not obstruct the flow-through ventilation of a built-in LPG barbeque facility with walls, fences, screens or other barriers.
Do not store any LPG cylinders or chemicals or flammable products near or under the built-in gas barbeque.
Do not transport gas cylinders in an enclosed vehicle, unless the vehicle is fitted with a gas cabinet.
Place signs in the barbeque facility instructing barbeque users to check that all hose connections are secure (if appropriate) and there is no smell of gas before starting the barbeque.