Safe use of public tyre inflators

WorkSafe is issuing a reminder about the risks associated with public tyre inflators. Tyre inflators are often made available for public use at petrol stations.



A member of the public was recently injured while inflating a wheelbarrow tyre at a petrol station. They were using a manual tyre inflator, which over inflated the tyre. The tyre exploded, causing serious face, neck and arm injuries.

Manual tyre inflators are often available for public use at petrol stations.

Safety Issues

Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy. Over-inflating a tyre can cause it to explode. This can result in serious injury to the person inflating the tyre or anyone nearby. If a tyre fails during inflation, the explosive force can send the wheel flying through the air.

Smaller tyres, such as bike and wheelbarrow tyres, are at greater risk of being over inflated. They have a smaller air volume, which means they can over inflate quickly.

Older tyres that are often found on bikes, wheelbarrows and trailers may have faults that can result in a failure of the tyre.

Manual tyre inflators can be dangerous because:

  • The person using it is usually near the tyre being inflated. This is common where the inflator does not have a clip valve nozzle and has a short hose between the trigger and the nozzle.
  • The gauges are small, and often dirty, which makes them hard to read. This increases the risk of over inflation.
  • The tyre pressure is only readable once the control lever is released.
  • The inflator and air hose are often not neatly stored, which increases the risk of damage.
  • They can be used inappropriately. For example, directing compressed air at a person which can cause serious injuries.

Recommendations to control risks

Replacing manual tyre inflators with automatic digital inflators eliminates many of the risks. Automatic digital inflators should have a:

  • automatic cut-off pressure system
  • air hose with a clip-on valve
  • air hose that is long enough to ensure the operator is outside the explosion trajectory
  • digital display that shows the pressure as the item is being inflated
  • audible signal when the set pressure is reached

Air station systems should be located away from high traffic areas.

Other ways to control risk include:

  • Clear signage explaining:
    • how to safely use tyre inflators, including inspecting tyres for defects before inflation
    • items that should not be inflated such as footballs and cleaning items
    • the recommended pressures for standard items
  • Supervision and monitoring of air station systems via CCTV and PA systems.
  • Avoiding inflating loose wheels and tyres. Tyres should be inflated while mounted to cars, trailers, bikes or wheelbarrows as this will restrain them in case of explosion.
  • Ensuring tyre inflators are regularly maintained and inspected by a competent person. Manufacturer recommendations should be referred to for maintenance and inspection intervals.
  • Where there is a risk of inappropriate use of compressed air, the air hoses should be removed and only provided to customers on request.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees of the employer, are not exposed to risks to their health or safety arising from the conduct of the undertaking of the employer.

This includes ensuring that members of the public utilising equipment made publicly available for use is safe so far as is reasonably practicable.

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