SAFETY LAPSES LEAD TO ‘ROOF HIGH’ CHEMICAL FIRE

Prestige Concreting Additives Pty Ltd has been fined $17,500 and ordered to pay nearly $4,000 in costs for violating our OHS Act by failing to ensure workers viewed safety data sheets (SDSs), which would have alerted them to the dangers of mixing hazardous chemicals.

The company also neglected to mandate the use of proper PPE, provide suitable mixing equipment, and offer adequate information, instructions, and training on chemical safety.

In late 2021 the incident occurred during the production of tracing smoke, commonly used by plumbers to test drains, ducts, and flues.

Employees combined two incompatible chemicals, potassium chlorate and ammonium chloride, without consulting the relevant SDSs which warned that mixing the two chemicals could lead to a violent reaction, resulting in fire and explosion risks.

The assumption that the supplied materials were safe to mix led to the use of an unsuitable electric blender. This, in turn, ignited the chemicals, causing flames to reach the factory's high roof and resulting in chemical burns to one staff member's hands and face.

Prestige Concreting has admitted its failure to establish a safe work system for manufacturing the tracing smoke. Such a system should have reduced the risk of serious injury or death in cases where the product reacted and caught fire or exploded.

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