Hazardous atmospheres

Atmospheres with insufficient oxygen, flammable gases and combustible dusts can pose an immediate threat to life.

Landfills, refineries, chemical plants, hazardous waste sites and underground storage tanks are areas where hazardous atmospheres, such as flammable gases and fumes, are likely to be present.

Over the past three years more than 300 workers were injured in NSW workplaces as a result of industrial gases and fumes. Four were permanently disabled and one died.

Infographic of hazardous atmospheres. Text: 304 workers injured, 4 permanently disabled, 1 dead

Over the past three years more than 300 workers were injured in NSW workplaces as a result of industrial gases and fumes. Four were permanently disabled and one died.

Must do's

There are specific laws about managing the risks of hazardous atmospheres. Here we summarise those laws and give you some practical tips.

Manage risks

You must manage the risks associated with hazardous atmospheres at your workplace, including any ignition sources.

Hazardous atmospheres exist where

  • there is not a safe oxygen level
  • the concentration of oxygen increases the risk of fire
  • the concentration of flammable gases, fumes and the like exceeds five per cent of their lower explosive limit (LEL), or
  • combustible dust is present in a quantity and form that would result in a hazardous area.

More information

For the specific laws about hazardous atmospheres, see clauses 51 - 52 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

There are also general work health and safety laws that will apply to you in any situation, including when managing the risks of hazardous atmospheres.

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