LPG - Small Scale Use of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) Cylinders
- If a Fire or Leak Occurs
- Further Guidance
The following guidance is based on the Health and Safety Executive's - 'Chemical Sheet Number 5'.
LPG (Propane or Butane) is a highly flammable gas that is pressurised to keep it liquified. The liquified gas is colourless and odourless though in many cases a chemical is added to provide an odour.
The main hazard with LPG is fire and explosion if the gas meets a source of ignition. LPG can also cause cold burns if it comes into contact with skin.
These gases are heavier than air so tends to sink to the ground and can collect in drains, gullies and cellars. The gas can flow for long distances in drains and gullies before it can be detected thus if the LPG is ignited the ensuing fire may travel large distances.
The cylinders that keep LPG are very robust and not easily damaged except for the valve at the top that may be vulnerable to impact.
- Whether the cylinders are fixed in position or not, there are a number of precautions that you should take. These precautions are:
- Keep rubbish and other combustible material away from the cylinders;
- Keep weeds and grass in the vicinity cut down. Do not use chlorate-based weed-killer near cylinders as it can be a fire hazard;
- Do not allow ignition sources (e.g. electrical equipment, bonfires etc) near equipment with LPG cylinders unless the equipment is specially designed to cope with this situation eg. LPG fired barbeques;
- Do not smoke when changing cylinders;
- Keep people, especially children, not involved in the installation well away from it;
- Keep vehicles well away from the installation;
- Make sure that the pipework or flexible hose from the cylinders to the point of use is protected against accidental damage. For underground piping, make sure you know the route it takes and avoid putting anything in the ground that may damage the pipework;
- Report any equipment failure or damage to your supplier without delay and ask them for advice about what you should do.
- Cylinders Not in a Fixed Position
Keep all cylinders in a safe, well ventilated place, preferably in the open air, and away from drains, from occupied buildings and sources of ignition and/or heat;
Make sure the cylinders are properly secured and kept upright.
You should ensure that the cylinders are stored in a safe, secure, well ventilated place away from drains and have all the necessary safety devices to protect hoses, pipework an appliances attached to them.
In particular you should take the following precautions:
- Ensure the cylinders are kept in a secure position and cannot be tampered with;
- If you have a maintenance contract, you should ensure that the contractors come at specified intervals and that any work required is done. If the equipment is leased, you should ensure that the owner keeps the equipment in good condition and performs appropriate maintenance on the equipment. Keep all paperwork relating to the installation and maintenance of the equipment;
- Only suitably trained and competent workers should be allowed to use the equipment;
- Read the operating instructions and the emergency actions before use and ensure that everyone who needs to, knows them and follows them carefully;
- Do not carry out modifications which may affect the safety of the installation, such as altering walls, or erecting fences or sheds or installing electrical equipment near the cylinders. If in doubt, ask your LPG supplier for advice;
- Make sure that 'No Smoking' signs and any other safety notices are posted and maintained.
If you have cylinder delivered, ensure you order the right number and type of replacements. Do not order more than you need as you may not have enough space to store them safely.
When the cylinders are delivered, make sure there is a parking space available for the delivery vehicle. Keep away while the cylinders are being handled.
Note: Never tackle a fire that involves a LPG cylinder as it may explode at any time. Always call the fire brigade in such circumstances and tell the Fire Brigade that a LPG cylinder is involved in the fire.
In the event of a fire, take the following action:
- Dial 9-999 (Internal Phone System) to call the fire brigade. Tell them LPG cylinders are on the premises;
- Tell everyone to leave the premises and go to a safe place well away from the installation. If you have a fire alarm activate it.
- If it is safe to do so, turn off the LPG appliances;
- If you think you have a minor leak of LPG at a cylinder or in the pipework, immediately evacuate the area around the LPG appliance and report the fault to an appropriate person;
- If the leak is indoors, open all the windows and doors;
- Do not switch any lights or other electrical equipment on or off as this may cause a spark;
- A leak in the pipework can be stopped by closing the valve on the cylinder or on the piping manifold, but only do this if you can approach the cylinders safely.
- For advice on fire precautions, ask the University Fire Safety Adviser.
- Detailed guidance is available in the LP Gas Association publication Storage of full and empty LPG cylinders and cartridges 3rd edition LPGA code of practice no 7 (1998).
- The LP Gas Association's address is: Pavilion 16, Headlands Business Park, Salisbury Rd, Ringwood, Hampshire BH24 3PB