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Forklifts that are powered by propane offer many advantages. Unlike electric, diesel, and gasoline-powered forklifts, they are equally effective indoors and out. They don’t create a lot of dangerous emissions, they are quiet yet reliable, and it’s easy to change out a propane tank quickly and efficiently when they run out of fuel.
But propane itself is a highly combustible gas, so using it as a fuel source for forklifts is not without its risks. There have been numerous instances of propane catching fire or even exploding after leaking from tanks that were damaged or improperly connected.
Businesses can minimize these risks by following proper safety protocols, inspecting their forklifts frequently according to a regular schedule, and by using the right propane-powered forklift personal protective equipment (PPE) for their forklift operators.
PPE for Propane Use
When propane tanks are hooked up properly to forklifts, they are actually quite safe to use. As long as the connector is not damaged, the tank is securely in place, and the operator is careful not to get too close to an open flame or high heat source, propane-powered forklifts can run for years, or even decades, without any problems.
It’s when the tank is being changed out that the risk increases. Changing a propane tank requires the old tank to be removed and replaced with a fresh tank. Care must be taken to prevent gas leaks during this procedure, which can lead to fire or explosion if the gas should come into contact with a flame or even a spark.
Whether the tank is changed out by the driver or a support team member, PPE should be used every time a new fuel tank is installed. These should include safety gloves and safety glasses at the very least. A hard hat is also a good idea.
Another useful safety tool to have on hand is a leak detector. This is a device that can monitor the air in the area where the tank is being changed. If a leak is detected, the device can notify the driver or workers instantly.
PPE for liquid propane gas tank changeovers should be kept in a convenient location that is easily accessible to workers in the area where tanks are usually changed. They can be conveniently hung on a wall where they can be accessed by anybody anytime a tank is being changed.
Next to the PPE, a sign should be hung reminding workers that smoking or the use of open flames is prohibited in this area at all times.
Propane is a useful fuel source for forklifts, but it can be dangerous. Minimize the risks of accidents in the workplace by using PPE combined with proper training and common sense.