Manifold Gauge Sight Glass

Safety alert outlining the best practice to avoid injury caused by exploding manifold gauge sight glasses 



Safety Alert



Ref No 




Falling Ice



Distribution:       Work place notice boards together with discussion at next safety meeting


A Refrigeration engineer was knocked to the ground when he was hit between the shoulder blades by a falling block of ice. The blow resulted in the engineer being taken to Hospital by ambulance for a short period of observation, and X-ray's. Luckily no bones had been broken but his back was bruised.


The accident happened during an operation to remove a large build-up of ice from the ceiling area at the rear of a cold store cooler. The cooler was situated approximately 10 metres above two forklift truck entrance doors.


The engineer's colleague, working from a specially built scaffold platform, was removing the ice.  As the ice was being chiselled away, varying sizes of ice chippings were falling onto the platform, but some were also falling to the ground. In order to protect any passer-by from falling ice whilst work was in progress, it was necessary to prevent access around the platform. The injured engineers task was to control such access. Whilst doing so, from a position some 4 metres away from the base of the platform, a large block of ice fell from the ceiling. During its decent the block hit a scaffold cross-brace, which deflected it towards the engineer, who only had enough time to turn his back before the block struck him.


Clearly, this accident could have had more serious consequences. Therefore, it is important that everyone does what they can to prevent a recurrence. Highlighted below are a number of groups or individuals, each should consider the issues raised against them! 


Sales engineers, clients, consultants and design engineers

• Coolers placed above doors will ice!
• Regular cooler maintenance is made difficult without easy permanent access!


• Poorly fitting or maintained doors will allow moisture ingress to the store, leading to icing!
• Poor door control - doors left open for extended periods - again, will allow moisture ingress!
• Clients could remove their own ice, this would prevent injury to employees!

Client/Star management or supervisors

• Should work together to produce an effective risk assessment, which includes all practicable safety measures!
• Consider closing the store when there is danger of people being hit by falling debris!

Service/maintenance engineers

• Ice could be removed before a large amount has formed - vigilance required!
• Defrosting-effectiveness should be regularly monitored and adjusted if required!
• Stop work if you recognise that extra controls are needed to make the work safe! E.g. Brick guards or catch netting placed around working platforms will reduce the likelihood of falling objects.
• Ensure that you have a risk assessment or at least have been told the hazards and safety measures.
• Ask if a method statement has been prepared - if it has, get a copy!
• If risk assessment safety measures are not in place when you get to site do not start work! 

The above list is not exhaustive, but serves to illustrate that the factors which lead to an accident are not always black and white. Everyone has a responsibility to THINK SAFETY! 


Last modified: Thursday, 4 July 2013, 9:47 AM