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Explosion or fire at recycling facilities that process explosive or flammable materials

What is the potential risk?

Recycling facilities may process explosive or flammable materials, which may cause a fire or explosion if ignited, potentially resulting in worker injury or death.

Materials that may pose a risk of explosion include metal containers holding explosive substances, such as gun powder or other flammable solids, liquids, or gases. Household aerosol bottles, in particular, pose significant fire and explosion risk if they are not emptied prior to the recycling process. If containers holding explosive or flammable substances are crushed, compacted, or shredded during the recycling process, there is a higher risk of fire or explosion.

There have been incidents of explosions at recycling facilities that are believed to be related to the processing of explosive or flammable materials.

Workers at recycling facilities, especially those workers working closely with hammers mills or shredders, may be at risk of injury should an explosion or fire occur.

What industries may be at risk?

  • Garbage, debris, industrial waste, or recyclable material removal
  • Oil recycling
  • Recycling depot
  • Recycling drop-off centre

How can I reduce the risk in my workplace?

As an employer, you need to know if there is the potential for the risk identified in this advisory to be present in your workplace. It’s your responsibility to regularly inspect your workplace, and to ensure that your safety procedures and practices control the risk. The following information highlights some of the sections of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation and Guidelines that are most relevant to this risk.

Part 5 of the OHS Regulation covers the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) requirements. In addition, sections 5.20–5.47 cover the risks posed by flammable and combustible materials, as well as substances under pressure.

Publication Date: Jan 2015 Asset type: Risk Advisory Reference: RA 2015-25