Safety warning issued after water bottle fire on mine site

Wednesday, 08 February, 2023

Safety warning issued after water bottle fire on mine site

SafeWork SA has issued a safety warning after plastic water bottles left out in the sun started a fire at a South Australian mine site. Clear plastic water bottles left on a pallet in the sun ignited cardboard packing material on 7 January 2023.

Subsequent investigations at the mine revealed the probable ignition source as sunlight that had refracted through the clear bottles. The heat caused the plastic water bottles to melt and partially burn the cardboard and wooden pallet. Workers on site spotted the fire and extinguished it before it spread or caused injury.

SafeWork SA has reminded all businesses about the potential risk of fire caused by sunlight refracting through transparent bottles containing clear liquids. The risks of fires caused by refracted light are well documented, particularly in the mining industry. Since July 2020, 29 incidents of this nature have been reported to WorkSafe Mines Safety in Western Australia. The majority of these incidents involved transparent plastic bottles filled with water being stored in direct sunlight.

Businesses are advised to use an undercover or shaded area for unloading transparent bottles containing clear liquid. Transparent bottles containing clear liquid should be stored in an undercover, enclosed or shaded area where sunlight cannot shine through the bottles. Transparent bottles containing clear liquids should be covered if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Clear drink bottles in vehicles should also be stored away from direct sunlight.

Image credit: Nature Photography

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