The dangers of unsafe use of portable gas appliances has made the
news again with a recent SafeWork NSW blitz of restaurants, cafes
and bakeries finding nearly a quarter of all workplaces were
using portable gas appliances unsafely.
The regulator visited 432 food businesses as part of the
campaign, and found that 99 were using portable gas appliances in
breach of work health and safety laws.
The blitz follows incidents last year when a 35-year-old man
sustained severe burns after a gas cylinder stored in a cafeteria
exploded, and another where a 32-year-old baker suffered serious
burns to his face, neck and arms following an explosion when he
tried to light a portable gas burner.
The NSW Government, like many other governments around Australia,
is grappling with this issue. In NSW, in the three years to July
2016 there were 18 workers' compensation claims, costing more
than $200,000, for hospitality industry workers injured in
incidents involving LPG cylinders.
NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said commercial
kitchens should be using gas connected to fixed mains or
industrial cylinders, which must be stored and handled in
accordance with dangerous goods laws.
"We've seen shocking cases of workers with horrific injuries when
gas appliances aren't used correctly and have caused explosions
and fires," he said.
Numerous LPG risks
It is important for all businesses to assess how they store and
use LPG cylinders - whether they are used on the odd occasion,
for example, staff barbecues, or on a much more regular basis.
The storage of gas appliances and cylinders is also important.
They should be outdoors or in an open area to avoid the risk of
asphyxia and, in some cases, stored in accordance with the
Australian Dangerous Goods Code, depending on the number of
All portable gas appliances must be certified in accordance with
Australian Standards and, in most jurisdictions, must be approved
by an accredited certifier. It is important that the appliances
only be used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
It is also critical that portable gas heaters and appliances are
used in well-ventilated areas - and checked regularly for leaks
The other issue that safety inspectors have found is with
portable gas appliances imported from overseas which, in some
cases, do not comply with Australian Standards and have not been
approved by a recognised testing organisation such as the
Australian Gas Association, SAI Global, IAPMO R&T Oceana,
Global-Mark and the Queensland Gas Association.
Steps you can take
Some steps your business can take to reduce the risks associated
with portable gas appliances include:
review the ways in which portable LPG cylinders are currently
used at your organisation;
regularly check to see if the cylinders are fit for use;
review how the cylinders are being stored and ensure that this
is done in the safest area possible;
ensure that your process for using gas cylinders eliminates or
reduces as far as practicable the risks of fire, explosion and
ensure that only trained staff are using the cylinders - and
that they read and follow the manufacturer's instructions.