Cooler Damage

Safety bulletin outlining the precautions to be taken to avoid damage to coolers during lift operations 



Safety Alert



Ref No 



Near Miss

Third Party Damages Cooler



Distribution:       Work Place notice boards together with discussion at safety meeting



On a current large distribution centre project where an ammonia and carbon dioxide refrigeration systems was being installed, an employee of a cleaning contractor, employed by the Principal Contractor, has crashed a Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) into a live carbon dioxide filled cooler. Fortunately, none of the connecting or internal piping was ruptured.  Obviously, if a rupture had occurred, the resulting release of carbon dioxide could have caused serious injuries to the driver e.g. freeze burns or asphyxiation in the worst-case scenario.


The driver was trained to drive the MEWP but it is not clear what level of supervision he was under or what instruction he had received from the Principal Contractor or his own employer regarding the dangers of working in the vicinity of live coolers.


Thankfully, no one suffered any personal injury in this incident but the cooler has been damaged and harm has been done in the form of costs being incurred through lost commissioning time and calling the cooler manufacturer to site to inspect the damage. Costs may rise further if the cooler needs to be replaced.


This incident is fairly unique in that it is the first time that we are aware of a MEWP crashing into a cooler. Obviously, forklift trucks do it with some regularity within operational distribution centres. But it does serve to remind us that we need to inform the Client or Principal Contractor of the dangers of live coolers and try to ensure that this information becomes part of the induction process on site. Particularly for areas on site where we don’t have control.


Please remind those in charge of a site:

•    When coolers are live
•    What they are live with (e.g. Carbon dioxide, Ammonia, Electricity, etc.)
•    The hazards associated with the above
•    What to do in case of emergency e.g. retreat to fresh air, drench shower, etc
•    That fans may start without warning
•    To pass on this information to those working in the vicinity of live equipment

It is good practice, Principal Contractor permitting; to control access to live plant rooms via a permit system, which should include an induction covering the above. Obviously, the client or Principal Contractor would need to decide how to manage other areas on site.



Last modified: Thursday, 4 July 2013, 9:43 AM