A Ford Ranger bakkie was extensively damaged after a tractor tyre exploded while being filled with air at a service station in Verulam, KZN today (Monday).

A member of Reaction Unit South Africa was on patrol in the area when he heard the explosion. On investigation, it was established that the driver of the Ford Ranger was in the process of filling air in a tractor tyre that was loaded at the back of his bakkie when the explosion occurred. The windows of the vehicle shattered and the loading bay was extensively damaged.

No injuries were reported.

Tyre Safety and Safety Protocols 

On reviewing this video, The South African Tyre Manufacturing Conference offered the following important guidance:

Firstly, no safety regulations and protocols was followed at all on such an industrial tyre.
The tyres should’ve put in a safety cage before you inflate a commercial/industrial tyres. See pictures below of a before & after.

Secondly, they inflated the tyre at a filling station. Most of these filling stations, inflation gauges are not calibrated regularly and therefore there is a possibility that the tyre was accidentally over-inflated or the person inflating the tyre doesn’t know the correct inflation pressure of the particular tyre and therefore overinflated the tyre. Many people think if you inflate a passenger tyre 2.2 bar, these bigger tyres should be inflated much more but the opposite is true in most cases.

The tyre might have had a weak spot because of internal structural damage because it drove over something or the tyre might have had a repair that wasn’t properly done.

“The SATMC urge consumers to adhere to safety precautions when inflating commercial tyres. These tyres should be inflated in an inflation cage. Consumers should also make use of accredited tyre dealers in order to receive adequate technical advice and service on their tyres.”

We also approached MasterDrive for some insights on the safety protocols need to ensure safety when inflating tyres:

“Tyre damage due to underinflation cannot always be detected by external inspection. If a tyre fails during inflation, the explosive force can be released resulting in a destructive air blast and the ejection of high-speed particles. If the wheel is not restrained, it can fly through the air. The rapid release of this explosive force from a ruptured tyre can result in serious injuries or even death.

This person was lucky to only get away with damage to their vehicle. That person could have lost their life!

Our Health and Safety rules prohibit this practice:

  • Heavy-duty tyres should be inflated in a cage as substituting the hazard with one that is of lesser risk – for example, if a truck tyre has been identified as underinflated while in use, do not immediately re-inflate the tyre in-situ. Instead, fully deflate the tyre and replace the wheel with a spare and have the tyre inspected by a competent person to determine if it is safe to put back into service.
  • Isolating the hazard from workers: deflating tyres prior to them being removed from the machinery or vehicle and inflating tyres in a safety cage or other portable restraint device; never reach into the cage during inflation or deflation and always position the body to one side of it.
  • implementing engineering controls: for example, by fitting – long enough air hose with a clip-on valve nozzle and remote pressure gauge for workers to stay outside of an exclusion zone (i.e. the potential trajectory or explosion zone), and a remote dump valve that is capable of rapidly deflating the tyre in an emergency.

Any remaining risk must then be minimised by using administrative controls such as:

  • Have a regular tyre maintenance schedule which checks tyres for condition, matching, pressure, tread depth and wear patterns, as well as rims for corrosion or cracking
  • Always follow the recommended tyre servicing procedures and ensure all workers undertaking these procedures are trained and follow them
  • Inform, train and supervise staff in safe personal positioning and safe procedures during tyre inflation including actions when a potential tyre failure is identified
  • Potential trajectory paths from a failure and exclusion zones have been identified
  • The wheel is inspected for damage and corrosion prior to the refitting of tyres
  • Tyres (new or used) are inspected for defects
  • Workers stand outside of any exclusion zones
  • Tyres are only inflated to the recommended pressure
  • All safety cages, air-lines and associated equipment are suitable for the task and maintained in a safe working condition.


The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) and Road Safety

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