Dangers of exposure to LPG
A substance that can kill
In NSW, an apprentice gas fitter was left working alone to extend an existing liquid petroleum gas (LPG) installation. On cutting into a live gas main, escaping LPG gas entered the trench where the fitter was working, resulting in his unconsciousness and death.
Arrhythmia (disruption to the heart rhythm), was identified in the coronial report as the cause leading to the death, and its onset was traced to the effects of butane, a normal constituent of LPG. Asphyxiating conditions inside the trench would have been a contributing factor.
Working with LPG
All gas fitters need to be aware that exposure to LPG is dangerous. When working with LPG, it is vital to be alert to the following:
- LPG concentrations as low as 2% will ignite in air
- gas is heavier than air and will travel along floors, downhill into gullies and will settle in low spots, trenches or basements
- at high concentrations, gas displaces air to cause asphyxiation
- the butane component of LPG has the potential to cause toxic effect.
To protect yourself and those working around you from the risk of serious injury resulting from exposure to LPG, conduct a thorough risk assessment of each and every job and take the following steps:
- Ensure appropriate supervision and inform others on site of potential hazards.
- Isolate the gas supply and drain residual line-gas pressure to where it is safe.
- Provide adequate ventilation, or breathing apparatus.
- Control and exclude all sources of ignition, including power tools and static.
Spill combat recommendations
In the event of a spill from a tank such as the one pictured below, follow the Hazchem 2YE spill combat recommendations. Use breathing apparatus and water fogging, contain the spill and consider evacuation. Search UN No.1075 for further information.
The Gas Supply (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2004 sets out the requirements for gasfitting work on gas installations. The procedures implemented to perform gasfitting work depend on the specifics of the site, which means the licensed installer must assess all aspects of risk for the work to be performed safely.
For more information about LPG safety, visit the Fair Trading website or contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20.
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