Western Australia releases recommendations for safe use of hydrocarbons

By Klara Skačanová, Sep 21, 2012, 15:54 1 minute reading

Conversion to hydrocarbon refrigerants not only makes an economic sense in view of the recent HFC Levy, but it may also be seen as a lower cost alternative when the certification requirements linked to handling of fluorocarbon refrigerants are considered. In that light, the Department of Mines and Petroleum of the Government of Western Australia has recently issued a safety bulletin outlining recommendations for safe handling of hydrocarbons.

While hydrocarbon refrigerants in mobile air-conditioning or other refrigeration systems may reduce some hazards, such as toxicity and environmental damage, it is important to be aware of their flammable properties, according to the bulletin.

Safer handling of hydrocarbons

The employer is responsible for arriving at a defendable, informed and documented decision regarding any substitution of refrigerants used in mobile equipment air-conditioners and other refrigeration systems at the operation.

Under the dangerous goods safety legislation, hydrocarbon refrigerants and the cylinders used to store such refrigerants should comply with relevant Australian Standards.

According to the bulletin, the following actions should be followed to deliver safer handling of hydrocarbon refrigerants:

  • Before using hydrocarbon refrigerants as a substitute to re-gas an air-conditioner or other refrigeration system, obtain written advice from the system’s designer, manufacturer or supplier on their safe use.
  • Implement a preventative maintenance programme for air-conditioners and other refrigeration systems.
  • Only competent personnel should work on air-conditioners and other refrigeration systems, particularly those containing hydrocarbon refrigerants.
  • Do not top up a refrigeration system without first checking for and fixing any leaks.
  • Only use equipment that is rated for hazardous zone use (i.e. flame-proof) near sources of flammable refrigerant.
  • Whenever a flammable refrigerant is placed in a mobile equipment air-conditioning system, affix a label in a prominent place in the engine bay to make it clear what refrigerant is used, and how much is used. It should incorporate the flammable gas (Division 2.1) class label.
  • Hydrocarbon refrigerants should be odorised to aid in their detection.


By Klara Skačanová

Sep 21, 2012, 15:54

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