| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free Specialty Function Coating Systems eResource Book

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Rebuilding, Coating Maker Gets a Break

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

An Australian coatings maker has been convicted of two safety violations and lost its $2.4 million plant in an explosion that burned an employee—but, in the end, it could have been worse.

Astec Paints, of Adelaide, South Australia, will stay in business after an Australian Industrial Relations Court gave the company a significant break on fines it had faced in a 2007 explosion and blaze that leveled the facility.

 Firefighters battle a blaze that leveled the Astec Paints plant in 2007.

 Neil Grant

Firefighters battle a blaze that leveled the Astec Paints plant in 2007.

On Thursday (March 22), the court acceded to the company’s pleas for leniency and fined it just 46,236.25—a fraction of the maximum $300,000 fine it faced—in the case.

The company had contended that a massive fine over its first major accident could have put it out of business.

Static and Chemicals

The fire began when a static electricity charge ignited paint chemicals—toluene, xylene and deglan—that employee James Pyman had been decanting with a pneumatic pump from a 2,000-liter mixing tank into 20-liter metal containers.

The cause was later traced to a static charge, but the precise origin and mechanism of the ignition could not be determined.

The facility lacked standard remote shutdowns for pumps and valves in the mixing tank and decanting equipment, and Pyman said he was unable to shut down the equipment because of the flames. With the pump still operating, the blaze quickly became a fireball.

Pyman was burned on his face and hand, but none of the 13 other employees on site was injured. The factory burned to the ground.

Guilty Plea

The company, a leading exporter of paints and coatings, was later charged with two violations of Australia’s Dangerous Substances Act. One count involved general failure to appropriately handle dangerous substances; the other cited the company’s lack of a license for chemicals it was using.

 Astec is an exporter of paints and coatings. The company’s portfolio includes products for concrete repair and protection.

 Astec Paints

Founded in 1978, Astec is a leading exporter of paints and coatings. The company’s portfolio includes products for concrete repair and protection.

The company eventually pleaded guilty to both counts. The plant manager said he had not known that a license was required.


In its ruling this week, the court cited several reasons for its relative leniency in imposing fines on the paint company.

• Although one expert said that such an accident had been “likely to happen” under the circumstances, the company had operated since 1978 without such an incident. “This shows in a tangible way just how likely the event really was,” the court wrote.

• The company’s guilty plea saved the courts time and money and “reflects genuine regret and contrition… .”

• The exact circumstances of the fire remain in dispute, although the company agreed that it had not taken “all reasonable steps” to prevent the accident.

• There were some “imperfect” devices in place capable of cutting off power to the equipment, although employees were apparently unaware of that.

• The company was financially devastated by the fire and has expended “enormous effort” to stay in business. No deterrent in the form of higher fines was needed, the court said.

New Safety Features

The court also noted that the company has since rebuilt, incorporating new safety features that “go well beyond the requirements of the relevant Australian Standard. These features should be made known to the industry at large.”

Among the improvements: a timer and shutoff on the mixing tank. Investigators found that the paint had been mixed longer than usual on the day of the fire and that the mixing operation may have been left unattended—both factors that may have contributed to the blaze.

The court also noted that the toluene used that day “may have had a particularly low level of electrical conductivity.” The company has found a supplier who uses an additive to increase conductivity. That additive will be used in all of Astec’s solvent-based products, the court said.


Tagged categories: Coatings manufacturers; Concrete; Concrete repair; Health and safety; Xylene

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

RPB Respiratory

With RPB Safety’s new Nova 3 Cassette Lens System which has been specifically designed to save you time and money! See the benefits for yourself now!

SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings

Join SSPC and Enhance
Your Career !

New resins from BASF will have metals loving water:

Excellent corrosion resistance, low VOC, high gloss, thin films

Wasser High-Tech Coatings Inc.
Wasser Coatings Protect

Wasser Coatings offer a complete range of Moisture Cure Urethane (NEPCOAT approved) systems in addition to Polyurea membranes and linings(NSF).

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal

Strip it, clean it, and profile it,
all dust free! High production
rates and Blast like finishes.
Comply with new lead

Corrosion Probe, Inc.
From Detection to Correction

Corrosion Probe, Inc. has the Most Concrete Coatings Experience and Expertise. Contact us today at

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.

Polyval Coatings
Polyflex® Polyurea Linings

Polyflex™ new Polyurea Geotextile Membrane System has been specifically engineered to protect the environment in containment applications.

Sidewinder/Persyst Enterprises, Inc.
The Sidewinder Model M2 Solvent Recycler

Combat the rising cost of gunwash, thinners, acetone & more while drastically reducing waste disposal coat.

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail