Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy. Tyres are designed to withstand this, but if they are damaged or have been used while flat or underinflated, they may fail. Underinflation is often not detected by external inspection.
If a tyre fails during inflation, the explosive force can send the wheel flying through the air. This risk must be eliminated if possible, but if that’s not reasonably practicable, then it should be minimised by:
- Substituting the hazard with one of a lesser risk
If a tyre is underinflated, do not re-inflate it in-situ. Instead, deflate it and replace it with a spare, then have the original inspected by a competent person to determine if it is safe to use
- Isolating the hazard from workers
Deflate tyres prior to removal and inflate them in a safety cage or other portable restraint device. Never reach into the cage during inflation or deflation and always position your body to one side of it
- Implementing engineering controls
This could include fitting a long air hose with a clip-on valve nozzle and remote pressure gauge for workers to stay outside an exclusion zone, as well as a remote dump valve that is capable of rapidly deflating the tyre in an emergency.
Remaining risks must be minimised using administrative controls such as having a regular tyre maintenance schedule for condition, pressure, tread depth and wear patterns, as well as rims for corrosion or cracking. You must also follow recommended servicing procedures (and ensuring workers follow them and are trained) and ensure potential trajectory paths from a failure and exclusion zones have been identified.
Other administrative controls include:
- informing, training and supervising staff in safe personal positioning and procedures during tyre inflation, including actions when a potential tyre failure is identified
- inspecting wheels for damage and corrosion prior to refitting tyres and inspecting tyres for defects, ensuring they are only inflated to the recommended pressure, with workers outside of any exclusion zones
- ensuring all safety cages, air lines and associated equipment are suitable for the task and maintained in a safe working condition.
If risk remains, it must be minimised by using personal protective gear.
Tips for safe tyre inflation
- DON'T lean over the assembly during inflation or sit or stand near it.
- DON’T use airlines not fitted with either a pressure gauge or pressure control device.
- DON'T use valve connectors requiring the user to hold them in place and don’t let the control valve be jammed open (allowing the operator to leave the tyre unattended).
- DO use a clip-on chuck to connect the airline with a quick release valve at the operator's end (allowing deflation from a safe distance).
- DO ensure the airline hose is long enough to allow workers to stay outside the explosion trajectory during inflation.
- DO use enough bead lubricant when seating the tyre.