The Queensland Mines Inspectorate has issued a statewide safety alert after an explosion in a truck cabin last week causing serious burns to an underground mine worker’s face, hands and chest.
The air-conditioning system was the source of the blast, which dislodged some of the cabin windows.
Investigations are ongoing, however early findings indicate that the air-conditioner was charged with a refrigerant containing propane and isobutane (hydrocarbon) instead of compliance with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirement stipulating the use of R134a refrigerant.
The inspectorate said the release of hydrocarbon refrigerant from the air-conditioner into the cab had created an explosive atmosphere which was ignited by an unidentified source.
Investigations indicated personnel servicing and charging the air-conditioner did not hold Queensland Gas Work Licenses for working with hydrocarbon refrigerant.
A similar incident occurred in 2014 when a drill operator in a coal mine suffered burns to the face, hands and torso in an explosion after hydrocarbon refrigerant leaked from the air-conditioning system and ignited.