Fatalities and injuries as a result of high pressure hose whip

WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about the importance of controlling risks to employees caused by high pressure hose whip.
Safety alert published

Wednesday 01 Jul 2020

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing
  • Dangerous goods

Background

Fatalities and injuries in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have highlighted the importance for users of pressurised flexible hoses to fit whip checks where there is a risk of injury.

Safety issue

Flexible hoses under high pressure can be found in many different industries and can contain various substances. The risk of injury from hose whip is greatest with high pressure or liquefied gases due to the rapid change in pressure resulting from a failure (for example, compressor air hoses, gas cylinder manifold connections and tanker hoses). If an unsecured pressurised hose disconnects, it will typically whip or flail in an uncontrolled manner until the system is depressurised. This situation can create a serious risk of injury or death to persons within the radius of the whipping hose.

Risks include:

  • injury as a result of being struck by the hose couplings, the whipping hose, or being knocked over and hitting the ground or an object
  • hose contents may spray and cause injury to anyone in the vicinity
  • material in the hose can cause more hazards due to a flailing hose. For example, flammable liquids spraying on hot equipment in the area has the potential to cause a fire.
  • Sudden noise released from a failed or whipping hose may also cause injury to persons from a secondary source (for example, resulting in a trip, slip, fall or hearing damage).

Flexible hoses and couplings may fail for reasons including:

  • incorrect design, selection, or installation
  • inappropriate use (for example, over pressurisation, not secured during pressurisation and depressurisation)
  • physical damage including wear, corrosion, or misuse

Controlling risk

Where possible employers should replace flexible hoses with hard-piped lines or rigid, fixed hoses. If this cannot be done, employers should:

  • install permanent brackets or anchor hoses to a solid, stationary structure (for example, a wall)
  • ensure whip checks (or safety chains, hose whip restraints) are installed on flexible hoses. (Whip checks are low cost and easy to install and use control)
  • install a system to auto shut off gas in the event of hose failure or sudden pressure drop
  • prevent or limit access to the immediate area around pressurised hoses

When it is not possible to replace flexible hoses with hard-piped lines or permanent anchors and brackets, employers should:

Identify hoses that can be subjected to pressure

Including:

  • high risk flexible hoses under high pressure where inside diameter of hoses exceeds ~20mm or ¾ inch
  • flexible hoses under pressure where a connection failure would generate a whip hazard

Select whip checks suitable for application

Whip checks should be:

  • constructed of sturdy material (for example, braided steel cable) compatible with intended service
  • manufactured by a competent person
  • rated for the maximum anticipated system pressure

Fit whip checks

  • Fit whip checks across hose fittings and anchor to a fixed and stationary structure or hose tree.
  • Whip checks assemblies should be kept as short as possible to be effective.
  • Consider trip hazards to avoid damage to whip checks and to prevent other injuries
  • Ensure attachments to the flexible hoses are fixed or secured (for example, independently secure gas cylinders being filled using flexible hose)

Inspect and maintain

  • Inspect whip checks regularly for damage, wear, and corrosion.
  • Inspect crimping.
  • Consider maintaining a whip check register or incorporating into hose register.
  • Tag whip checks with installation and/or last inspection date.

Information, instruction and training

Employers must ensure that employees are provided with adequate information, instruction and training on:

  • the hazards associated with high pressure hoses and the use of whip checks
  • use of Personal Protective Equipment  where there is potential of whipping hoses

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety and eliminating those risks. If it is not possible to eliminate the risks, employers must reduce the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must:

  • so far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.
  • ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that people other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the employer's conduct.
  • provide employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Where dangerous goods are used in hoses and whip checks, the occupier must ensure that any risk associated with the transfer of dangerous good from area to area within the premises or from or into a container on the premises is eliminated or, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, is reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Regulation 37 Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012

An occupier of premises where dangerous goods are stored and handled must ensure that structures and plant used for the storage and handling of dangerous goods are manufactured, installed, commissioned, operated, tested, maintained, repaired and decommissioned—

(a) so as to eliminate the risk associated with the storage and handling of the dangerous goods; or

(b) if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, so as to reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.