Safety alert 01/2013 - Fatal injury from heating hydraulic cylinder

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

Recently a 38-year-old man died when a hydraulic cylinder he was heating with an oxy acetylene torch exploded. The employee was heating a sealed hydraulic cylinder to remove a seized clevis pin at the bottom of the cylinder.  Heat from the oxy acetylene torch may have overheated the residual hydraulic oil/vapours in the cylinder, which was partially emptied, causing a build-up of pressure resulting in the piston ram being ejected through the top of the cylinder smashing the bolted end cap, inflicting fatal injury.

Contributing factors

  • The hydraulic cylinder contained residual hydraulic oil.
  • The cylinder was sealed (not open to atmospheric pressure).
  • Application of heat to the cylinder.

Action required

  1. Do not use any heat-producing equipment such as oxy acetylene/gas torches and angle grinders on sealed hydraulic cylinders.
  2. Remove hydraulic oil and thoroughly clean the cylinder before heating the cylinder.
  3. Make sure the cylinder is open to atmospheric pressure.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from WorkSafe’s Contact Centre on 1300 307 877 or by email

This Alert contains safety information following inquiries made by WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report or as to its use.

Last updated 29 Jun 2017

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