Incorrect use of flammable liquids

12 October 2023

A recent incident where a farm worker received serious burns when using a flammable liquid to assist in the burning-off of grape vine prunings has sparked a SafeWork SA warning.

SafeWork SA warns that the incorrect use of flammable liquids can be a serious risk to the safety of workers, and other persons, if used incorrectly.

The worker was required to burn large stockpiles of vine stumps and prunings. He dowsed the stockpile with petrol and lit the initial fire. After a short period of time, the flames died down and the worker attempted to pour more petrol onto the fire.

The petrol ignited and engulfed him in flames, causing serious burns to his face, both arms and his left leg.

Employers and workers need to be aware of the dangers of using flammable liquids to start, or assist, in the burning of farm-related debris.

Safety solutions

SafeWork SA reminds Businesses and workers to ensure flammable liquids are not being used to ignite fires in the workplace and to seek safer alternative in the first instance.

To reduce the risk of incidents and injuries occurring when burning farm debris, consider:

  • alternative methods to burning, such as mulching
  • the use of “Fire Lighters” designed specifically to initiate a fire if there is no alternative
  • ensure workers are trained, supervised, and informed of the dangers of flammable liquids and are advised not to use these products for the lighting of fires.
  • under no circumstances should flammable liquid be thrown onto a heat source, such as a naked flame or burning ember.