NSW Mine Excavator Fire Highlights Risks of Flammable Degreasers

An excavator operator in a NSW open cut coal mine noticed excess oil building up on top of the stairs and engine compartment of the excavator. Fitters attended to degrease the oil spill which occurred from a failed hose. The fitters applied degreaser on the roof of the engine compartment to clean up the excess oil. However, the degreaser dripped through the floor to the engine room below falling onto a hot exhaust manifold and starting a fire.

The fitters evacuated the vehicle and triggered the fire suppression system. No injuries were reported.

In the Incident Summary Report of 10 May 2024, the NSW Resources Regulator advised the mining industry. “Where products such as cleaners and degreasers are used near hot engine components, the ignition point should be assessed and compared with surface temperatures to manage the risk of fires. When selecting products, higher ignition point products should be used.”

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