Many of us use gas appliances every day when we cook, heat our homes and outdoor spaces, go camping and use the barbeque.
There are several uses for natural and liquified petroleum gas (commonly known as LP gas, LPG or just a gas bottle), so it’s important you are aware of the potential hazards when using them.
This page includes information on:
- risks and injuries
- safety requirements for gas appliances and LP gas cylinders
- your consumer rights
- how to report a safety concern
- how to report a serious incident
- tips to be a savvy consumer
Risks and injuries
Gas (both natural and LPG) is invisible, tasteless and in its natural state, odourless. To help detect a gas leak, a chemical is added to gas, so we can smell it. This makes it smell a bit like rotten eggs.
While these gases are not poisonous or toxic on their own, they can lead to some serious hazards by displacing the air around you.
Natural gas (methane) is lighter than air, so it can rise in a room if allowed to escape from a burner or leaking fitting. In contrast, LPG (propane or butane) is heavier than air, so it sinks to lower areas in our environment, travelling along the ground or floor, downhill to gullies, trenches and basements.
Gas leaks can cause:
- carbon monoxide poisoning (a result of incomplete combustion)
- headaches and dizziness
- general feeling of being unwell and/or uncomfortable
- permanent injury or disability
- fire and explosion.
LPG concentrations as low as two per cent can ignite the air and result in fire and explosion, while natural gas can ignite with a concentration just over five per cent.
Did you know? Explosions and fires can occur when LPG cylinders have been carried or left in closed vehicles, such as vans or cars.
Sparks can be triggered by a car’s electrical components like remote locking systems, electric motors (starter motor, wipers, aerial), ignition systems, radios and sound systems and cigarette lighters.
Lighting a cigarette in a vehicle which is carrying flammable gas may also ignite LPG.
Don’t risk injury and death, follow our tips to stay safe.
The Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2017 and supporting Gas and Electricity (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2018 helps ensure the safety of gas and electrical goods used by consumers in NSW.
The Act outlines minimum consumer safety standards and requirements for gas appliances and installation. These include the following:
- all gas installations must be carried out by a licensed gasfitter
- refillable gas cylinders (LPG) can only be reused if they have a current, legible test mark from a certified gas cylinder test station no more than 10 years old:
- if a gas filling station, as part of a cylinder exchange, accepts any cylinder that is not appropriately marked, they will have to either ensure the cylinder is inspected and marked by a test station in accordance with the law before refilling, or dispose of the cylinder
- all gas appliances (such as space heaters, central heaters, cooktops and ovens) sold must be:
- marked with the type of gas to be used by the appliance
- approved by a certifier accredited by NSW Fair Trading, and
- marked with an Australian recognised certification label (see below for examples).
Anyone who offers to supply or supplies a non-compliant or unapproved gas appliance risks a maximum penalty of $11,000 for a corporation or $2,750 for an individual.
Your consumer rights
As a consumer, you have the right to expect that the goods you buy are safe. That’s why we’re here.
Australian Consumer Law requires safety standards to be met before certain goods are sold. These standards include:
- the way the good is made
- what it contains
- how it works
- the tests it needs to pass
- whether any warnings or instructions need to accompany it.
Individual suppliers who breach Australian Consumer Law can be fined up to $220,000, while corporations can be fined up to $1.1 million.
Report a safety concern
IMPORTANT: If there is a fire or you require urgent medical assistance, don’t delay - contact your GP or call 000 immediately.
If you become aware of an unsafe situation or item (including incorrect or absent safety labelling), whether or not anyone has been injured:
- Alert the supplier about the issue.
- You can also report it us by calling 13 32 20 or making a complaint online, or report the matter to Product Safety Australia.
Report a serious gas accident
Report serious gas accidents to us as soon as possible by calling 13 32 20 or emailing the Electrical and Gas Safety Unit.
You can send us a letter too at:
Electrical and Gas Unit
NSW Fair Trading
PO Box 972
PARRAMATTA, NSW 2124
You should include information on the accident (where, when and what happened), and provide contact details so we can get in touch with you.
What is a serious gas accident?
A gas accident is classified as serious when a person:
- suffers permanent disability
- is hospitalised
- receives medical treatment, or
- is unable to attend work for any period of time.
Be a savvy consumer
Always treat any gas leak as a potential lethal risk. If you smell gas in your property, exit the building immediately, call 000 and ask for the NSW Fire Service.
- extinguish all naked flames and ensure cigarettes are not lit
- contact a licensed gasfitter
- contact your gas supplier, their phone number can be found on your gas bill.
If it is safe to do so:
- turn off the gas at your gas meter or cylinder
- open all doors and windows for ventilation
- turn off all appliances (including electrical) and pilot lights.
- Never use an outdoor space heater indoors. Don’t use any appliance made for outdoor use inside your house. Safe use requires more ventilation than what is available indoors.
- Gas appliances for sale without an attached recognised approval label might be unsafe. When buying a gas appliance, make sure you ask the salesperson to show you the approval label.
- Do not buy an unlabelled appliance.
- Buyers should be aware that overseas approvals of gas appliances are not recognised in Australia.
- Make sure appliances are serviced by a licenced gasfitter every year.
- Ensure LP gas cylinders are transported in the upright position and are appropriately and firmly secured.
- Before purchasing a new or used refillable LP gas cylinder, ask the retailer to show you the current legible test mark and confirm that the cylinder can be legally filled in NSW. If there is no current legible test mark, the cylinder may not be safe to fill. It’s illegal and dangerous. Don’t risk it!
Gas water heaters
- Always use a licenced gasfitter to carry out any installation and repair work.
- Make sure your water heater is serviced once a year.
- Make sure bathroom and kitchen heaters have unobstructed ventilation. If ventilation is obstructed in either flued or flueless water heaters, poisonous fumes like carbon monoxide can be forced back into the room contaminating the air you breathe.
- If you aren’t sure about the type of water heater you have in your home, contact the NSW Master Plumbers Association on 1800 424 181 (toll free) or the manufacturer.
- Look out for any signs of discolouration of the water heater or the walls near the heater, as this can indicate dangerous problems with the heater or its flue.
- Make sure heater flue pipes are free from all restrictions and holes.
- Keep a written report of any maintenance work undertaken and be sure you receive a Certificate of Compliance from a licensed gasfitter.
- You may want to replace indoor gas water heaters with a new, safer and more energy efficient heater, located outside the building.
Browse our Product safety section for more information on a range of product types including baby and children’s products, electrical goods, and other consumer items.
The Product Safety Australia website is managed by the ACCC and has information on gas safety and national recalls.
Suppliers can find out more about their responsibilities on the selling safe products page.
Learn more about energy services in NSW.
Gas water heaters
Gas water heaters and other appliances (both natural gas and LPG) that have not been properly maintained are responsible for deaths and serious injuries.
If you have a gas bath heater or flued instantaneous water heater in your bathroom or in your kitchen like any of the appliances shown here (see below) it could be dangerous.
Flued water heaters
Flued water heaters can be found in bathrooms. They operate with a flue that vents harmful fumes outside (like a chimney). Problems can arise if the flue pipe leaks or becomes blocked.
Bathrooms are particularly tough on water heaters. The moist environment speeds up corrosion, which causes leaks. Lint, hair, fluff from towels, talcum powder, shampoo and aerosol residue can accumulate within the heater and block the airflow needed for the gas burner to operate safely.
Flueless water heaters
Balanced flued water heaters work without a flue pipe, however they still need permanent unobstructed ventilation to operate safely.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.