A safety alert was issued after an incident in which a pressurised fire extinguisher was ruptured and travelled through the air for 300 metres!
Although this happened on a demolition site it could easily happen when undertaking refits or repairs onboard your vessel or workplace.
A machinery operator was using a hydraulic shear attachment to cut fire suppression pipes into sections by pulling lengths from the pile, cutting them and placing the cut sections to one side.
The operator did not see the pressurised fire extinguisher and cut it in half. The bottom section of the extinguisher travelled through the air and crashed through the roof of a warehouse approximately 300 metres away.
It landed in a laydown areas that was not being used at the time and no-one was hurt, thankfully!
While this may sound a bit amusing the reality is that someone could have been seriously injured or even died as a result.
This not only applies to fire extinguishers, but it also applies to all pressurised vessels. All pressurised vessels should be treated with care as they all present potential dangers. Below is a burst air compressor tank and a propane tank which exploded.
Both of these could have resulted in major injuries not to mention loss of lives.
When undertaking a re-fit workers are often subject to tight timeframes and can easily overlook a fire extinguisher or other pressurised vessel on the other side of a bulkhead they are cutting or drilling through. The same goes for factories and other workplaces.
Remember, it’s not just cutting a pressurised vessel that can rupture them they can be ruptured by drilling, items falling on them or any number of other causes.
Top of the list for recommendations is to take the time to ensure there are no pressurised vessels that may be impacted by the work you’re undertaking.
Check on the other side of bulkheads and decks to make sure all is clear, not only of pressurised vessels but other potential hazards. Here’s a quick check list:
- Ensure there is a system in place to ensure no pressurised vessels are in areas where they may be ruptured
- Where they are present, remove them to a safer location out of the way
- Ensure all workers are trained to recognise pressurised vessels and the requirements to move them out of the way
- Ensure workers are aware of the consequences if pressurised vessels are ruptured
- Ensure all other potential hazards are identified and dealt with
You don’t want to be responsible for injuries to yourself or others. Worse still you don’t need to be the cause of lives being lost, one of which could be yours!
My best tip is to make sure no pressurised vessels or other potential hazards are removed prior to starting work.