Propane is becoming increasingly common as a fuel at construction sites. It can power portable generators, power buggies, concrete grinders, polishers, portable heaters, and other light equipment. Of course, as with any fuel, there are safety concerns associated with it. Here are some essential propane safety tips as a reminder about how to properly handle, store, and use this fuel.
Job Site Propane Safety Basics
- Propane itself doesn’t have a smell, so the chemical ethyl mercaptan (ethanethiol) is added to it to give it a smell similar to rotten eggs. Make sure all workers know that if they smell this odor, it may indicate a propane leak.
- Using propane-powered machinery not designed for indoor use can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning when operated inside or in an area with poor ventilation. Only use one indicated for indoor use in any enclosed space or area with little fresh air circulation. Opt for modern machines that come with carbon monoxide detectors. Also, make sure the crew is familiar with signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, like headaches, dizziness, lethargy, weakness, confusion, and chest pain.
- Store temporary propane containers at least 10 feet away from sources of ignition, combustible materials, air intakes, and structures.
- Place propane cylinders on flat, stable, sturdy, fireproof surfaces. Store them safely in a cage or rack, out of direct sunlight and protected from rain and other sources of heat and moisture.
- Protect propane-powered machinery, propane cylinders, and propane containers from damage with bollards or other crash protection equipment.
- Review refueling instructions for propane-powered machinery.
- Refill propane containers carefully outdoors or in a designated filling area at the construction site. Wear appropriate PPE.
- A propane cylinder’s pressure relief valve should be kept clean and easily accessible. When the cylinder is horizontal, keep the valve in the 12:00 position, pointing upwards at a 45-degree angle.
- When propane cylinders are not in use, close their service valves by turning them clockwise until completely closed.
- Make sure workers are all familiar with these propane safety tips.
- Consult your propane supplier for safety guidance, refilling options, and answer to any other questions you may have.