Safety alert issued over scuba cylinder explosion

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.
Friday, 30 April, 2021 - 12:15
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about the hazards and risks associated with filling self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) air cylinders.

An employee recently sustained serious injuries after attempting to fill a scuba compressed air cylinder, which exploded.

It is believed that the air cylinder had not been maintained and was not capable of holding the original fill pressure capacity, causing it to explode. The air cylinder shattered into a number of pieces, injuring the employee and placing others, in the area, at risk of serious injuries.

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

  • Ensure the cylinder has undergone regular testing.
  • Do not fill a cylinder without evidence of a valid inspection/test date within the last 12 months.
  • Do not fill or use a cylinder if there is evidence of surface gouging, dents, broken fittings, corrosion or rust.
  • If a cylinder leaks whilst filling, immediately cease filling, discharge the cylinder and evacuate the area.
  • Do not fill a cylinder at a pressure greater than the working pressure stamped on the cylinder – if in doubt of the cylinder’s working pressure seek further advice from the manufacturer.
  • Use proper cylinder filling equipment, follow procedures and refrain from fast filling.
  • Do not tamper with the valve unit, safety valve fitting or rupture disc.
  • Do not allow contaminants into your cylinder in the form of saltwater or moisture.
  • Do not leave a cylinder completely empty – leave a slight air pressure in the cylinder.
  • Do not allow a cylinder to come in contact with fire or temperatures above 150C.
  • Flexible connections (filling hoses) should be suitably restrained before filling, otherwise they may whip if the hose bursts or disconnects when pressurised.

Furthermore, before filling a cylinder, ensure:

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

“If you do not know the answer to any of the above, do not fill the cylinder, follow the recommended control risks and consult with your employer and or health and safety representative,” the alert said.