• Hand Sanitiser
    Most hand sanitisers contain ethanol in concentrations > 60% (usually around 70-80%) which is classified as highly flammable (3.1B) under the hazardous substances legislation. It would be best to refer to the safety data sheet for specific advice on storage and use and for managing the risks. Even for small containers, there is a legal separation distance from ignition sources that must been maintained (not < 30cm for quantities less than 10 litres if I recall correctly), for flammable liquids of class 3.1A and B.

    In the healthcare setting, there have been some rare examples of staff and patients causing ignition through static spark while using ethanol based hand sanitisers and before the ethanol has evapourated. See attached fire incident report from a hospital in Oregon, US. This is probably an extreme example as the patient had been playing with the hand sanitizer prior to the vapours igniting, but it makes for interesting reading non-the-less.

    There is the following example of a healthcare worker suffering burns after ignition from static discharge but I have not as yet been able to find a credible incident or research report.

    Also the most recent newsletter from Responsible Care NZ also contains an example of an incident at a local transport company involving ignition of hand sanitizer that was ignited by static discharge before the ethanol had evapourated from the employees hands. The lesson here is to ensure that the hand sanitizer has been allowed to fully evapourate and that hands are clean and dry before commencing other tasks.
    OHSU Feb 02 Report Final - Ethanol hand gel fire (3M)
  • Oxygen Bottle Regulator Explosions/Fires - How much do you really know?
    Hi E Baxter. If you flick me an email () I can provide you with the pdfs. I'm sure our capability development team wouldn't mind sharing this guidance with other DHBs. Thanks Antony
  • Oxygen Bottle Regulator Explosions/Fires - How much do you really know?
    Hi Lee,

    That is quite a horrific accident to happen. I hope that the young man recovers well. I work at a DHB and have been developing guidance around medical gas cylinder safety for this particular reason. Hospitals use large quantities of medical gas cylinders, especially oxygen and other oxidising gases. Combined with the ubiquitous use of ethanol-based hand sanitisers, this creates a need for good guidance and education.

    Did the incident you refer to occur in New Zealand? Is there an investigation report into the incident that is publically available (personal details removed for privacy reasons)? I ask as reports/examples of particular incidents are valuable training tools but the only examples I can find of similar incidents ocuring with medical gas cylinders/diving cylinders are either from the UK, US or Israel. Having a local story would be beneficial when educating and rasiing awareness with staff. Are you aware of any other examples of incidents involving gas cylinders in New Zealand?

    All of our regulators (to the best of my knowledge) have a brass core which should minimise the risk of fires caused by adiabatic compression.

  • New thinking in health & safety - community of practice
    I would be interested to be involved also. This is something we would like to establish across DHBs also.
  • Institutionalisation and Entrenched Behaviours
    Thanks everyone for your input. It's very informative.
    Tania: I will take a look Humble Inquiry as, as others have mentioned, part of the problem is, people that have been in the organisation for several decades, being told what to do by someone new. I will have to learn a new approach in this regard.

    I also think that part of the safety culture at the DHB has evolved out of necessity due to budget constraints and having to prioritise say, patient care over H&S, for example.

    Helen: I agree with the evidence-based approach and do try to gather research materials where possible (the Internet is a good source of H&S information including incident case studies). However the DHB is such a large organisation with a huge variety of technical disciplines each with its own hazards. Budget constraints do limit access to things like standards and codes of practice.

    Thanks for all your help.
  • Institutionalisation and Entrenched Behaviours
    Hi all.
    Thanks for the suggestions and comments. Its very useful. I agree that its certainly not going to be a quick fix to change an organisations culture, and coming with a "big stick" approach just produces resistance. I will try the 'I need your help' approach and have a good read of Todd Conklin. Thanks for your help.