Safety alert issued over high-pressure hose whip incident

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Tuesday, 7 July, 2020 - 14:45
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the importance of controlling risks caused by high-pressure hose whip.

Fatalities and injuries in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have highlighted the importance for users of pressurised flexible hoses to fit whip checks where there is a risk of injury.

Flexible hoses under high pressure can be found in many different industries and can contain various substances.

The risk of injury from hose whip is greatest with high pressure or liquefied gases due to the rapid change in pressure resulting from a failure (for example, compressor air hoses, gas cylinder manifold connections and tanker hoses).

If an unsecured pressurised hose disconnects, it will typically whip or flail in an uncontrolled manner until the system is depressurised. This situation can create a serious risk of injury or death to persons within the radius of the whipping hose.

Where possible employers should replace flexible hoses with hard-piped lines or rigid, fixed hoses. If this cannot be done, employers should:

  • install permanent brackets or anchor hoses to a solid, stationary structure (for example, a wall)
  • ensure whip checks (or safety chains, hose whip restraints) are installed on flexible hoses. (Whip checks are low cost and easy to install and use control)
  • install a system to auto shut off the gas in the event of a hose failure or sudden pressure drop
  • prevent or limit access to the immediate area around pressurised hoses

When it is not possible to replace flexible hoses with hard-piped lines or permanent anchors and brackets, employers should:

Identify hoses that can be subjected to pressure, including:

  • high-risk flexible hoses under high pressure where the inside diameter of hoses exceeds ~20mm or ¾ inch
  • flexible hoses under pressure where a connection failure would generate a whip hazard

Select whip checks suitable for application, and whip checks should be:

  • constructed of sturdy material (for example, braided steel cable) compatible with intended service
  • manufactured by a competent person
  • rated for the maximum anticipated system pressure

In fitting whip checks:

  • Fit whip checks across hose fittings and anchor to a fixed and stationary structure or hose tree.
  • Whip checks assemblies should be kept as short as possible to be effective.
  • Consider trip hazards to avoid damage to whip checks and to prevent other injuries
  • Ensure attachments to the flexible hoses are fixed or secured (for example, independently secure gas cylinders being filled using a flexible hose)

Inspect and maintain:

  • Inspect whip checks regularly for damage, wear, and corrosion.
  • Inspect crimping.
  • Consider maintaining a whip check register or incorporating into hose register.
  • Tag whip checks with installation and/or last inspection date.

“Where dangerous goods are used in hoses and whip checks, the occupier must ensure that any risk associated with the transfer of dangerous good from area to area within the premises or from or into a container on the premises is eliminated or, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, is reduced so far as is reasonably practicable,” the safety alert said.