May 2021: Plastic piping near potential heat sources

This update is issued to raise awareness of the risks associated with plastic piping installed near potential sources of heat.

This safety update is for

  • Owners and operators of fishing vessels
  • Maritime safety inspectors
  • Ship surveyors.



In February 2021, an explosion in a compartment on a fishing vessel caused severe burns to the vessel’s master.

On investigation, it was found that a contributing factor to the explosion was the use of plastic piping carrying pressurised air. This piping was close to a compressor that had leaked oil. When the oil started to burn, this melted the plastic carrying the compressed air and this caused an explosion.

Plastic Piping Heat Sources 1
Plastic Piping Heat Sources 2


Risks to safety

Operators should be aware that plastic pipes installed near potential sources of fire or heat are more likely to melt than piping composed of other materials.

Whatever is being carried by the piping may pose a risk to the master and crew if it comes into contact with other substances or sources of heat.


What you should do

Many fishing platforms carry compressors. Operators should be aware of the risk of leaking oil being exposed to a heat source, and take appropriate steps to eliminate or mitigate that risk.

If you replaced plastic piping with heat resistant metal piping, this would minimise the risk of pressurised compressed air being introduced to a flame and causing an explosion.


Contact us for more help

If you have any questions about this safety update, please contact our Wellington office.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522

Tell us what you need help with and remember to include your contact details (email address and phone numbers).