Issued: 25 August 2010
Last Updated: 23 August 2010
The purpose of this safety alert is to highlight the potential dangers associated with the storage and transportation of flammable gas cylinders in confined spaces of vehicles.
Photograph 1: The damage to the Toyota HiAce van where the MAPP gas cylinder was stored.
Photograph 2: The welding torch fitted to the disposable MAPP gas cylinder.
There have been a number of incidents throughout Australia involving the explosion of gas cylinders in work vehicles. A recent incident in South East Queensland involved an explosion of a MAPP gas cylinder in a Toyota HiAce van parked outside a worker's home. Photograph 1 shows the force of the explosion and the structural damage to the building.
At the time of the incident the MAPP gas cylinder was fitted with a welding torch. Preliminary investigations indicate that the MAPP gas cylinder was found to be the source of fuel for the explosion. The MAPP gas cylinder had been placed in a storage rack within the vehicle overnight. The owner came out the next morning and activated the remote control for the central locking system to open the van when the explosion occurred.
The fitting of the welding torch to the MAPP gas cylinder depresses the main valve of the cylinder to allow the flow of gas to the welding torch. The control valve on the welding torch is the only means of controlling the flow of the gas from the cylinder to the welding torch.
The occurrence of such an incident in a highly populated public area has the potential for devastating and catastrophic results to both human life and property.
Photograph 3: A typical gas storage cabinet showing the warning sticker
Photograph 4: The welding torch removed from the disposable MAPP gas cylinder.
Recommended control measures
The fitting of a gas storage cabinet in the rear of the vehicle is the optimum solution. These gas storage cabinets are sealed and vented to atmosphere outside the vehicle.
The gas storage cabinets are to be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and have a flammable gas sticker affixed to the outside of the cabinet. Regular inspection and maintenance of all seals is to be conducted in accordance with manufacturer's specifications.
When storing MAPP gas cylinders or any other type of disposable gas cylinder in a vehicle or toolbox, ensure that the welding torch is removed from the cylinder.
For the storage of any other gas cylinders in an enclosed area ensure:
- the storage is compliant with AS4332
- the main valve of the gas cylinder is shut off
- any control valves on the welding torch are firmly shut off.
Ensure that any obvious ignition sources are kept well away from any gas cylinders stored in an enclosed area.