Worker burnt while hot cutting flammable steel drum

Wednesday, 17 July, 2019

Worker burnt while hot cutting flammable steel drum

A South Australian worker has sustained serious burns while cutting a steel drum with oxy-acetylene equipment.

According to SafeWork South Australia (SafeWork SA), the drum had previously contained flammable liquid. The incident is currently being investigated.

To prevent similar incidents, SafeWork SA is urging workers to check containers for hazard signs and ensure that they did not contain harmful chemicals or flammable liquids or gases before cutting them with oxy-acetylene equipment. Workers should not use hot cutting equipment on containers with unknown contents. SafeWork SA added that workers should avoid re-using flammable storage containers and ensure they are properly disposed of.

If cutting drums with hazardous or unknown contents is unavoidable, SafeWork SA advises that hot work should not begin unless all existing sources of ignition have been eliminated or controlled, the contents have been neutralised and the container has been properly cleaned and certified vapour-free by a competent person.

Workers should always refer to the Safety Data Sheet and manufacturer’s instructions before performing any work on a container. Finally, employers should develop safe work processes to manage hazards and ensure that all staff understand and are trained on these. Staff should also be supervised to ensure they understand the risks.

More information on safe welding and cutting practices can be found in the National Code of Practice for Welding Processes via SafeWork SA's website.

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