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Safety alert issued over refilling gas cylinders

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Sunday, 18 July, 2021 - 10:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the hazards associated with refilling Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders following two recent incidents involving the refilling of cylinders.

In the first incident, Fire Rescue Victoria and Victoria Police attended a service station where a member of the public had tried to fill a barbeque gas cylinder from an LPG dispensing bowser, causing a leak and releasing gas into the atmosphere.

In the second incident, an employee received burn injuries to their hands whilst refilling a forklift gas cylinder from an LPG dispenser.

While only minor injuries were sustained in both incidents, the alert said they highlight the potential danger associated with filling gas cylinders from an LPG dispenser.

LPG is classified as a dangerous goods flammable gas (Class 2.1) and filling of a portable gas cylinder at a service station vehicle LPG dispensing bowser is dangerous and prohibited. There is a risk of fire and explosion when gas cylinders are over-filled or when potential ignition sources such as static electricity, are not controlled.

Regulation 42 of the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 outlines specific obligations regarding the transfer of Dangerous Goods, specifically the requirement to have measures in place to control spills and leaks, minimise static electricity and control vapour generation.

The safety alert said there are a number of recommended ways to control risks:

Prevent or stop unsafe gas cylinder filling

  • Only allow trained persons to carry out gas cylinder filling tasks.
  • Only allow vehicles to refuel at automotive LPG dispensing bowsers.
  • Ensure service station operators have a full view of the dispensing bowsers and are trained to shut down the dispenser in an emergency.

Ensure operators filling gas cylinders have knowledge and training

  • Ensure operators can demonstrate competency in filling procedures and emergencies.
  • Ensure operators understand the risks associated with static electricity and use the controls set out in safety procedures.
  • Ensure operators use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Ensure operators do not use devices to hold the valve open (i.e. a screwdriver, cable ties, jubilee-type clips).

Ensure a safe environment for gas filling

  • Identify and control hazards associated with the filling of gas cylinders.
  • Ensure the filling station area is a safe distance from fuel dispensers, flammable materials, tanks containing dangerous goods, public places, building entries and exits.
  • Ensure no ignition sources, such as static electricity and smoking, are in or near the filling area.
  • Ensure adequate fire protection is in the filling area. At a minimum, have a hose reel or powder-type extinguisher available.

Develop safe procedures

  • Ensure procedures are developed for safe gas cylinder filling.
  • Ensure cylinders are inspected periodically and are marked with a test date in the last 10 years.
  • Remove cylinders that are damaged, corroded, have damaged attachments or leaking hoses, to ensure they are not used.

Before filling a cylinder ensure:

  • the cylinder has a valid test date
  • the cylinder is free from damage, broken fittings or rust
  • the filling instructions have been read and understood
  • appropriate PPE is being worn (eg hearing, eye and foot protection)