Propane is widely used on construction sites due to its versatility. It can be easily transported, is relatively inexpensive, and offers a reliable energy source. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to use it safely.
These 10 tips for managing propane on construction jobsites should get you started.
1. Use the Right Tanks
Liquid propane is generally stored in metal tanks, ranging in size from around 100 pounds to over 1000. Propane should only get stored in certified tanks with dimensions that fit the needs of your project. This approach will make it easier to operate efficiently without needing to resupply regularly.
The ideal tank should be capable of fueling multiple sources without needing constant refilling. Always use a professional refilling service or provider when purchasing your tanks. You can usually trade in old tanks for a small discount.
2. Properly Transport Tanks
Moving propane tanks from point A to point B requires a few best practices to ensure maximum safety. If using a large rig or utility vehicle, ensure everything gets secured before delivery. Tanks should always get transported upright to avoid tipping.
A tank that is more than 1000 pounds must get labeled appropriately on every side. If you’re transporting propane tanks, take them directly to their destination and avoid detours to reduce the potential for an accident. By limiting the amount of time you spend on the road, you can avoid bumps, collisions, and other potential issues.
3. Store Tanks Safely
Once propane tanks get delivered to the work site, store them appropriately to ensure worker safety. Make sure tanks aren’t used inside. Place them outdoors in a ventilated space at least 10 feet from where the gas gets ignited.
Avoid exits, entryways, stairs, and hallways when setting up propane tanks. Store them away from high-traffic areas so they aren’t bumped or damaged. Never store tanks in a vehicle, especially when it’s hot out. Otherwise, it could combust.
4. Establish Safe Operating Procedures
Businesses must ensure that all employees operate with well-defined safety procedures when working with propane. Failing to have strict policies in place can unnecessarily place workers in danger. Requiring certification, providing training, and doing safety inspections are all essential for safely using the fuel source.
Employers can do a few things to limit the potential hazards of using propane. On-site workers should have the proper training and knowledge before using propane for construction. Anybody who is actively working with or using propane should be aware of the dangers and ways to mitigate harm to themselves and others.
5. Perform Regular Inspections
It’s important to regularly inspect your propane tanks and equipment for wear or damage. Failing to do so can have drastic consequences for workers and others on the site. Propane tanks are dangerous if they’re punctured, and you don’t want to operate the equipment if it’s leaking fuel.
If a propane tank fails, it can cause chemical buildups, fires, and explosions. Having procedures in place to properly inspect tanks and equipment before use will help you keep your workers safe and prevent unwanted damage to expensive items. Taking these steps before propane arrives on site will allow you to create a safe work environment.
6. Use Natural Gas Detectors
Propane can be deadly if high concentrations build up in the air. It can cause suffocation, asphyxiation, or heat burns to the skin. Construction sites must take the necessary steps to ensure employees are safe from harm.
Having sensors capable of detecting and warning workers if propane leaks occur is a good idea in construction environments. Propane gas detectors are cost-effective and can save lives. Ensure you have proper warning and evacuation procedures in case of a leak, so workers have plenty of time to react and get to safety.
7. Use Proper PPE
Having the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) can make all the difference to employee safety on construction sites. Hard hats, goggles, gloves, and jackets are just a few of the things that can prevent personal injury if a propane leak or explosion occurs.
Crews working with propane need good respiratory, eye, and skin protection so they don’t get chemical burns. They should also be prepared in case a blaze breaks out. Fire retardant clothing can make a huge difference if there’s an accident.
8. Get the Right Equipment
Propane can power everything from generators to water heaters, but you must ensure your construction equipment is compatible first. Some equipment isn’t designed to handle propane, so you should be sure you're using the correct make before filling the tank.
Employers and crew members must know what their equipment is designed for. Make sure your equipment is capable of using propane as a fuel source. You can damage it if it’s not, which can be hazardous to those nearby.
9. Power Off Equipment When Not in Use
Another thing you can do to manage propane on construction sites is to make sure equipment is off when not in use. Letting things go unattended can be dangerous and causes unnecessary wear on expensive items. When using construction equipment that runs on propane, you should continuously monitor things.
Tanks, fuel lines, and generators should be carefully watched to ensure no leaks or other problems during operation. When you’re finished for the day, remember to shut everything down to reduce hazards, improve equipment lifespans, and limit fuel waste.
10. Follow Regulations
OSHA has strict requirements for how construction crews should handle propane while working on the job. In addition to proper use and storage, workers must handle tanks properly and wear the correct PPE while on the job.
Knowing which equipment falls under OSHA specifications will allow you to maintain compliance and reduce potential liabilities while operating on-site. Following these guidelines will make life easier and help the construction process go much smoother.
More Construction Crews Are Taking Advantage of Propane
For short-term or ongoing projects, construction crews can use propane to heat buildings and power their equipment reliably. As more discover the benefits of propane, it’s increasingly important to know how to use it properly.
If you’re managing propane on construction jobsites, consider these tips to promote safety, efficiency, and sustainability.