The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Pyrolosis in Truck Tyres

Graham Marshall - Friday, July 19, 2013

Coming into contact with overhead power lines when driving can cause the tyres on trucks, cranes and other heavy vehicles to catch fire and explode.

Five workers have been killed by exploding tyres in Australia in recent years and many more injured as excessive heat developing in tyres has led to the unpredictable phenomenon known as pyrolysis.

Pyrolysis can occur when excess heat is applied to a tyre.

Often it is a result of electrical arcing and current flow when rubber tyred vehicles have been involved in high voltage electrical incidents.

The heat decomposes the rubber and other compounds used to manufacture the tyre, creating a ready fuel source.

The ratio of this fuel to the air used to inflate the tyres can then reach flammable or LEL (explosive) levels.

The explosive energy released during a tyre explosion can lead to serious injuries or fatalities and significant equipment damage.

Because of the amount of kinetic energy released, a danger area up to 300 metres away is typically required to be established.

Pyrolysis related explosions are unpredictable, sometimes happening immediately, sometimes up to 24 hours after the heat was applied to the tyres.

And the explosion can happen with no visible signs of a fire on the outside of the tyre before it explodes.

Besides electrical heat sources, other sources of heat that lead to pyrolysis in tyres include welding (e.g., on wheel rims), oxy/acetylene heating wheel nuts, overheating brakes and wheel motor fires.

Tyre explosions predominantly occur with split rim configurations, but can happen with all types of tyres.

Any pneumatic rubber tyred vehicle involved in an incident where an electrical fault results in discharges or arcing around or through the tyres should be considered a potential hazard.

Procedures to follow when there is a danger of a tyre explosion, such as when a rubber tyred vehicle has contacted overhead power lines include:

+ Parking the vehicle in an isolation zone, with a minimum 300 metre radius;

+ Removing everyone from the area, and not allowing anyone to re-enter the isolation zone for 24 hours; and

+ Alerting fire fighting services to the potential hazard.

It should be noted that if pneumatic tyres are filled with nitrogen instead of air, it reduces, if not eliminates the risk of pyrolyic tyre explosion.

Electric Shock from Galley Fridge

Graham Marshall - Sunday, July 07, 2013

The Safety Alert shown below highlights how there is a need to always perform hazard spotting ("stepback 5X5") before undertaking any routine task.

AS 5488-2013 Classification of Subsurface Utility Information

Graham Marshall - Thursday, June 20, 2013
Standards Australia has announced the launch of a new Australian Standard which will – for the first time – outline a consistent approach towards the classification of information relating to subsurface utilities. 

At present the existence and location of subsurface utilities can be difficult to establish and verify, which is the problem this standard seeks to address. 

AS 5488-2013 Classification of Subsurface Utility Information is intended to improve public safety, reduce costly property damage, and provide more accurate information on the location and type of subsurface utilities than in the past. 

Australian utility owners, operators and locators should welcome the Australian Standard which sets a new benchmark for subsurface utility information management. 

The new Standard provides a framework for the consistent classification of information concerning subsurface utilities. 

The standard also provides guidance on how subsurface utility information may be obtained, and how that information should be conveyed to users.

Whisky Distillary Fire

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 03, 2013

Now this is what I call a real catastrophic disaster!

A court in Glasgow (Scotland) was told how two workers were filling whisky casks in a warehouse when a fire broke out causing the loss of more than 17,500 litres of the precious liquid.

The fire happened on 29 June 2011 when the men were on a metal walkway at the top levels of the warehouse using flexible hoses to fill 450-litre casks with whisky.

Having filled four casks, one worker turned to see a jet of whisky shooting up towards a ceiling light fitting above a fork lift truck.

The whisky hit the light fitting and a flame exploded over the forklift.

Both workers fled the warehouse, activating the fire alarm as they left.

Thousands of litres of the burning spirit poured down the racked casks and onto the forklift truck until the supplying pump was turned off about 15 minutes later.

The forklift truck was described as looking like 'a Christmas pudding once brandy is set alight'.

An investigation into the fire by the UK HSE found that the central aisle lights in the warehouse should not have been used in a flammable atmosphere and, had they been checked, they would have been identified as an ignition source trigger.

The investigation also highlighted that the filling equipment was not suitable for use to transfer a hazardous substance like alcohol at pressure.

Had the company taken the simple steps of checking the light fittings were suitable for use in a flammable atmosphere and that the equipment used to transfer the alcohol was fit for purpose this incident could have been prevented.


Ethanol Tank Farm Fire

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, February 05, 2013

An ethanol storage tank fire at this plant in Ourinhos, Brazil is believed to have been started by a lightning strike. The tank contained five million liters of ethanol.

Almost 150 men from the plant's fire brigade with the support of the local Fire Department took almost 48 hours to bring the fire under control.

They used more than 10 million gallons of water, which equals one day of water consumption of a city with 100,000 inhabitants.

According to plant management, there are dozens of lightning protection towers in the area of the tank farm but the tank was struck during a heavy rain that hit the city last Sunday.

Dropped Power Pole Incident Alert

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Safety Alert from APPEA which is shown below illustrates how a worker was lifting/erecting a "two-part" steel power pole when a joint in the pole separated causing the bottom section of the pole to slide into the pre-made hole and the top section (still attached to the crane) to swing down and hit the ground.

No personnel was injured.

Key learning for all such lifting operations include:

> Ensure manufacturer’s specifications are reviewed and followed for installation projects;

> Ensure exclusion zones are implemented and observed throughout lifting operations; and

> Verify certifications for lifting points on equipment or structures prior to lifting.

Preventing Electrical Fires

Graham Marshall - Sunday, November 18, 2012

This is the final post in our week-long special focus on electrical hazards.  We're finishing-up the campaign with a focus on the danger associated with electrical fires; and to prevent them and manage them if they do occur.  So read on for the tips of the day: 

 ●  If any of your  tools give off any mild electric shocks, replace them immedaitely; 
●  Replace light switches that cause flickering; 
●  It's generally OK for switches to feel warm, but if they feel hot they need to be replaced; 
●  Replace all damaged power cables and extension cords; 
●  Never attempt to push a three-prong plug into a two-holed socket; 
●  If you don’t have the expertise and certification for electrical work, don't attempt DIY repairs; 
●  Fight any electrical fire with an appropriate fire extinguisher; 

●  Learn how to use a fire extinguisher effectively;

 ●  If your circuit breaker trips-out after you’ve reset it, it's a warning that there’s a short-circuit in your home or office; 
●  Turn off electrical appliances when they’re not in use; and

●  Keep all flammable and combustible materials away from heaters and any appliances that get hot.

Electrical Safety in the Outdoors

Graham Marshall - Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making sure that you're safe when using or working near electrical power sources is just as important when you're outside your home or office as it is for when you're working or relaxing indoors.

As part of our focus on electrical safety this week, today we're providing some tips on protecting yourself from electricity in the great outdoors.  So here are the tips of the day:

●  Always keep a safe distance from overhead power lines;

●  Check for underground buried electrical services before digging ("dial before you dig");
●  Keep garden trees pruned and far away from the power lines which may enter your home as well;

●  Never fly kites, balloons, or model airplanes near overhead power lines;

●  Never situate or climb on a ladder that could fall on or very close to a power line;

●  Be on the lookout for power lines when using a chainsaw or other outdoor equipment;

●  Never swim in your pool (or other water body) during an electrical storm;

●  If a power line is knocked down to street level, do not touch it;

●  If you see fallen power lines, contact your local authorities immediately;

●  Never climb the fence that surrounds any electrical substation;
●  If your pet, ball or other property  finds its way inside a fenced sub-station, call the electric company;

●  Keep electrical appliances and out of the rain, off of wet surfaces, and away from pools, ponds, or water: and
●  Only allow outdoor outlets on a circuit guarded by a Residual Current Device (RCD) or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).

Power Socket Safety Tips

Graham Marshall - Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today's focus as part of our electrical safety campaign is on the safe use of  power sockets.  Read below for the key tips on this topic:

●  Block unused outlets with a solid cover plate or childproof caps. Few electrical safety tips are more important when you have young children in the house;

●  Ensure that all wall-mounted power sockets ("outlets") are encased with solid, secure plates so that all the wiring is enclosed;
●  Do not overloading power sockets or outlets with large numbers of extension cables and temporary power box's;;
●  Never place anything into the power socket holes except for the appropriately-sized plug; and
●  Always install a residual current device (RCD) or ground fault circuit interrupter in your home and office.

Extention Cable Safety

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Today's focus is on the safe use of electrical extension cables.  Please see below for some further tips provided by Matthew Pelletier,  Director of Public Relations at Compliance and Safety in the USA. 

●  Replace frayed, splinted, or damaged electrical extension cables;

●  Use electrical appliances and tools only in dry locations and situations;

●  Take your electrically-charged environment into account when outdoors;

●  In case of an electric fire, use an appropriately rated fire extinguisher;

●  Be familiar with your homes fuses board; where it is, how it operates, and label the switches;

●  Regularly check extension cables for cranks, kinks, splints, or frays before each use;
●  Ensure extension cables are firmly plugged;

●  If the plug is too loose (or the holes are too snug), choose another power point outlet with a better fit;

●  Use extension cables for the right purpose. Extension cables aren’t clothes lines, leashes, or skipping ropes;
●  Never staple or nail an extension cable in place;

●  If you need to secure a cable, tape it in place or apply twist-ties as needed;
●  Never modify an extension cable;
●  Use extension cables sparingly around your home;
●  Make sure you’re using the right cable; use the correct length, proper weight, and type (indoor or outdoor);

●  Pull on the plug at the outlet when unplugging—never on the cable itself;

●  Don’t allow cables to meander under carpets where they become a tripping trigger; and

●   Don't run extension cables above other appliances;

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