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Propane-powered forklifts are one of the most popular types for both indoor and outdoor use. In the US, there are more than half a million LPG-powered forklifts in use in warehouses, docks, and other types of facilities. Propane-powered forklifts are so popular because they are efficient, powerful, and relatively inexpensive to run.
But like other types of vehicles, LPG forklifts are prone to wear and tear. Mechanical systems sometimes break down. And because propane is a potentially flammable gas, care needs to be taken to avoid leaks.
Propane accidents are rare, but they can happen. Knowing how to identify a propane leak can save lives and help protect your business.
Forklift Safety – Rotten Eggs Smell
Propane itself is an odorless gas. But manufacturers of LPG tanks often add a chemical to the gas mixture so that it can be detected by smell should there be a leak. If you smell an aroma like rotten eggs, it could mean there is a propane leak somewhere on your forklift.
The first thing to do is to immediately turn off your forklift. When mixed with air, propane is highly flammable. An open flame, the smallest spark, or even static electricity could be enough to ignite a fire or explosion. Propane also is heavier than air, meaning that it can settle to the floor to form pockets.
After turning off your forklift, if you are working indoors you need to ventilate the space. Open a window, garage doors, or other openings that will let fresh air in. Turn on overhead fans or set up a box fan to clear any residual gas from the area.
Forklift Safety – Checking for Leaks
If you suspect a leak, check the seating of fittings and valves. Sometimes you can hear the leak hissing. Another way to detect a leak is to pour soapy water over a suspected area. If it bubbles up, you’ve found it.
If the leak is on the cylinder itself, it must be replaced right away. Propane tanks can’t be thrown into the trash so you will need to find a program in your area for disposing of it properly.
Be careful when working with propane. It is stored under high pressure. Plus, if your skin comes into direct contact with a propane leak, there is the danger of frostbite.
Propane tanks are durable. But sometimes leaks happen. Knowing how to deal with them could save a life and prevent protect your business.