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Firms urged to review safety checks after probes find remnant gas in cylinder in fatal Tuas fire

Jan 14, 2024

SINGAPORE - Preliminary investigations of the Tuas fire that killed one and hurt another on Dec 30 have found that the acetylene gas cylinders involved contained remnant gas, which fuelled the explosion.

In an e-mail alert on Wednesday, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council called on all companies storing or handling flammable gas cylinders to undertake an urgent assessment of their safety measures.

On Dec 30, two Asia Technical Gas workers were checking and maintaining spent gas cylinders in Tuas when an explosion occurred, killing one worker and hurting the other.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the fire at 21 Tuas Avenue 3 at about 9.05am.

A 38-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic, while the other worker, aged 43, was taken to the Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Spent gas cylinders may contain significant amounts of remnant gas, which can cause death or serious injuries when released, WSH said in the e-mail alert.

It urged all companies storing or handling flammable gas cylinders to undertake an urgent assessment of their safety measures, including the following:

Flammable gases should be discharged from cylinders only when it is deemed safe to do so. Any release should be properly controlled, through vent lines to a safe, well-ventilated location.

Potential sources include open flames, frictional sparks, and hot surfaces. Electrical outlets should not be overloaded or wiring exposed as these can overheat or produce sparks.

Non-sparking tools should be used when working with gas cylinders containing flammables. Ensure that electrical equipment used, including work area lighting, is rated explosion-proof.

Do not discharge gas cylinders if incompatible work, such as hot work, is being carried out nearby.

Gas cylinders should be labelled to warn of the hazards and precautions for proper storage and handling. Brief workers on the risk controls in place and provide on-site supervision of the work.

In addition to fire-retardant coveralls, workers should have personal gas detectors or detectors should be installed in areas where gas can accumulate, to alert them to any build-up of a flammable mixture.

First-time corporate offenders that fail to comply with the Workplace Safety and Health Act may be sentenced to a fine of up to $500,000, while individuals can be sentenced to a fine of up to $200,000 and/or jail for up to two years.

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