If you are starting a small business that requires the use of propane to fuel commercial appliances and factory equipment, you need to provide your employees with a safe environment to avoid leaks, fires or explosions. Before you begin using propane, familiarize yourself with the following guidelines for propane safety in the workplace in order to avoid a catastrophic accident and damage to your valuable equipment.
Transport and Refill Safety
One of the first steps in administering your propane safety program is to hire a qualified transport operator to deliver the fuel safely and efficiently to your workplace. Licensed propane dealers will have the proper equipment to safely load the fuel into your storage tanks.
When you need to adjust the settings of propane-fueled equipment or change propane cylinders, make sure that you and your employees wear protective gloves. Propane can cause burns that are similar to frostbite and, in high concentrations, can also cause asphyxiation. You can purchase safety gloves specifically designed for handling propane containers. The gloves come with a chain to hang them on cylinder overhead guards.
Make sure to post a material safety data sheet about propane in a visible area in your workplace to remind employees of the risks associated with handling the fuel.
Depending on the type of equipment you use, you may be required by law to schedule periodic inspections of propane equipment such as underground tanks. However, even if you are not mandated to conduct inspections, you should do so anyway to avoid operating defective equipment and putting your safety at risk.
Some propane dealers will inspect your pumps, gas detectors and meters for you. For propane-powered equipment like forklifts, contact an authorized mechanic to conduct an inspection. If you have heating equipment that uses propane, make sure to have the devices inspected before the onset of cold weather.
Safety Procedures When Something Goes Wrong
If you have an airtight propane safety plan in place, you can still be vulnerable to human error and equipment failure. Typical scenarios that require immediate action include the following:
Even if you are able to contain an accident on your own without contacting the fire department, you should never attempt to use any of your propane-powered devices or turn on the gas without obtaining an inspection from your propane supplier or a licensed propane service technician.
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