Safety alert published

Monday 30 Sep 2019

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WorkSafe has recently been notified of three separate incidents involving the loss of containment of highly toxic and corrosive chemicals caused by the use of small bore fittings for temporary connections. The connections were made using a mixture of imperial and metric sized components which were not compatible. One incident resulted in the partial evacuation of a MHF and the need for emergency services to attend. No injuries were reported from these recent incidents.

image of small bore fittings on copper tubing

Important: When using small bore fittings with temporary tubing, ensure metric and imperial components are not mixed.

Recommended ways to control the risks

  • Where temporary tubing is required ensure connections are installed in compliance with relevant piping standards. Systems should be in place to ensure that metric and imperial components are not mixed and the wall thickness of the tubing is in the range specified for the fittings
  • If it is not possible to positively identify the fitting type and tubing size, the tubing components should not be used.
  • Employees installing tubing must be competent and provided with information, instruction, training and supervision.
  • A task specific risk assessment should be conducted prior to implementing any temporary connections to identify and adopt any control measures.
  • Where practicable, permanent hard piped lines that are maintained and designed for the specific purpose should be used to reduce the risk of loss of highly toxic and corrosive chemicals
  • The use of fittings and tubing must meet the manufacturer's requirement.

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 or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.

Employers must also 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.

Employers must 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.

Further information

AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids (Standards Australia)

AS 3780:2008 - The storage and handling of corrosive substances (Standards Australia)

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