WorkCover safety plea

WorkCover NSW is urging people to be cautious when working with empty drums after a man suffered serious burns when the drum he was cutting exploded. Acting General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, Peter Dunphy, said the 41 year old worker was injured last week when the 44 gallon drum he was cutting exploded at a business at Bomen, north of Wagga Wagga. 

“Drums are often recycled and used as storage containers, particularly in agricultural settings,” Mr Dunphy said.

“Typically, drums are cut using an angle grinder, plasma cutter, oxyacetylene burner or welding equipment.

“This is an extremely dangerous activity which has resulted in a number of workers killed or seriously injured in recent years.

“Hot work or work which may cause an explosion should never be conducted near or on items that contain chemical residue, especially solvents.

“Drums that previously contained flammable liquids must also be handled with extreme care as they may contain vapours, even after many years and may release hazardous gases when exposed to heat.

“Businesses and workers should also consider what work is undertaken near stored flammable materials, such as welding, grinding and other hot work that may cause ignition.

“WorkCover’s initial enquiries into the incident indicate that no testing had been undertaken on the previous contents of the drum before the worker attempted to cut it.”

WorkCover has published a Fact Sheet to help businesses and workers that are considering cutting empty drums.

Further information on the risks associated with cutting metal drums is available by calling 13 10 50.  Ω