What Is Liquefied Gas?
Liquefied gasses are gases that are in a liquid state at normal room temperature and stored in cylinders under pressure. Common examples of liquefied gases include nitrous oxide, anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, propane, and carbon dioxide.
These gases are generally stored in a cylinder, with a bit of gas filling the space just above the liquid gas. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is generally available as propane, butane, or sometimes as a mixture of each. It is a colorless odorless liquid. Odorants are often added to such gases to detect any leak.
Liquefied petroleum gas is often used as fuel in many industrial applications. LPG is highly flammable, and because its denser than air, it tends to settle in low spots such as basements or drains, resulting in a suffocation hazard or increasing the risk of explosion.
It’s important to note that if LPG contains more than 0.1% Butadiene, it is also classified as a mutagen and a carcinogen. It is commonly used as lighter fuel, as a refrigerant, as a propellant, and is a widely used alternative to gasoline. In many industries, LPG is a necessary substance required for the production of plastics or other chemicals.
How Is LPG Made and Transported?
Liquefied petroleum gas is made when crude oil is refined or by processing natural gases. After further refinement, the LPG is renamed as either butane or propane, and in some cases, a mixture of the two.
After it’s refined, LPG is transported in larger vessels or gas cylinders. These cylinders are often loaded in trucks and transported in bulk quantities, which is different from natural gas, as that is transported through pipelines.
In most cases, LPG exists as a vapor or a liquid when it is pressurized and stored in cylinders or tanks.
The Many Safety Risks of Liquefied Petroleum Gas
The use of LPG in industrial applications often poses various risks. When working with LPG or other compressed gases, the risks are two-fold: those posed by the gas itself, and risks posed by the gas cylinders.
Here are some of the most common safety risks and hazards when dealing with LPG:
- Risk of leaking: LPG is transported after liquefaction in different size vessels. In some cases, LPG is moved through pressurized pipes. There is always a risk of leakage in the pipes or the vessel, causing a serious safety risk and disruption at work.
- Risk of explosion: As mentioned, LPG is highly flammable, so there’s always a risk of explosion when the gas starts accumulating in a closed space. As soon as a source of ignition comes into contact, it lights up. LPG cylinders can also explode if they are not maintained properly.
- Risk of cold burns: When LPG leaks, it vaporizes rapidly, causing the surrounding temperature to decrease sharply. As a result, if a person comes into contact with LPG, it could lead to severe cold burns on their skin, including frostbite.
- Risk of asphyxiation: In higher concentrations, LPG can displace enough air to bring down oxygen levels. This can cause drowsiness in employees and breathing difficulties. Long-term exposure can cause damage to the central nervous system, or worse, lead to death by asphyxiation.
General Safety Requirements When Working with Liquefied Petroleum Gas
There are several requirements that companies must meet to ensure the safety of their employees. Here are some important ones:
- LPG cylinders or vessels must be stored in suitable locations with appropriate ventilation and must be in line with conventional practice codes.
- The LPG plant must be designed to meet relevant standards and should be installed and commissioned by a competent authority.
- An appropriate program for maintaining and testing the plant regularly should be created.
- It’s imperative that employers install monitoring and control devices, including sensors and valves. These should be maintained and inspected at regular intervals.
- Appropriate records for maintenance and incidents must be kept. Incident reporting should be accurate and timely for more effective investigations.
- There should be appropriate safety measures in place to prevent any kind of interference in LPG plants.
- All records of routine maintenance, testing, and inspections must be maintained securely.
The Importance of Appropriate Reporting When Working with LPG
The importance of maintaining comprehensive and accurate reports when working with LPG plants is very important. Since this is such a flammable gas, it’s important that organizations take relevant steps to make the LPG plant as safe as possible.
RIDDOR dictates that reports should be made by a “responsible person,” and if the dangerous occurrence is caused due to an issue in the pipeline works, that would be the pipeline operator or the gas conveyor.
If the dangerous occurrence was caused due to flammable substances escaping (such as a gas leak), the responsible person will be the supervisor or employee in charge of the premises when the occurrence took place.
And so, it’s important to maintain proper reports when working with LPG or other compressed or pressurized gases. Maintaining incident reports is necessary, especially if they are prepared by employees who were present.
They can help you identify flaws in your system and take appropriate steps to mitigate the risks involved. The Health and Safety Executive provides guidelines related to siting of the tank, ventilation, and conditions around the tank. Maintaining records of all assets and arrangements is necessary to ensure the safety of workers on site.
Use EcoOnline’s Health & Safety Software for Accurate Reporting
EcoOnline’s cloud-based health & safety software simplifies enterprise-wide reporting. With its mobile application and integrated software, capturing, managing, and investigating incidents is easy without any undue delays.
There are also several modules, including Risk Assessment Software, Asset Register Software, Event Tracking Software, Observation Software, and more that allow organizations to take a data-driven approach to ensure the safety of their employees.