Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a Class 2.1 flammable gas and must be located and positioned safely, according to AS 4332—2004 The storage and handling of gases in cylinders. This blog looks at the specific requirements of the Standard, and identifies:
- How to find the best location on site for your LPG cylinders.
- Segregation and separation requirements.
- Additional precautions for flammable gases.
NOTE: when we refer to ‘regulations’ we are not just referring to the Model Work Health and Safety Regulations, it’s a collective term we use to include all current legislation, Codes of Practice and the Australian Standards that govern the way gas cylinders must be stored on commercial premises.
Where to position LPG cylinders
Wherever possible LPG cylinders should NOT be stored indoors. LPG is denser than air, so indoor storage can be particularly dangerous because any leaked gas will accumulate in low lying areas. The odourless LPG gas can quickly fill a whole room, asphyxiating workers entering the area, or even exploding from simple ignition sources like static electricity.
Look for a place outside where you can install a sturdy gas bottle cage made from heavy duty materials with cylinder restraints or safety straps. The area should be away from pedestrians and traffic, and able to be fenced and secured from unauthorised access.
Other considerations for the location of your LPG gas cylinder stores include:
- Making sure the store is located at ground level
- Locating stores away from site operations and machinery that produce artificial sources of heat (steam pipes, boilers, radiators etc).
- Preventing combustible materials, garbage and vegetation from coming within 3 metres of the gas cylinder stores.
- Levelling and possibly sloping the area to allow for suitable drainage.
- Keeping entryways and exit points to cylinders stores clear at all times.
IMPORTANT: If it is not possible to locate gas cylinders stores away from vehicles you must install bollards or crash barriers to your gas bottle cage to minimise the risk of cylinders being hit by vehicles.
Segregating and separating LPG cylinders
According to AS 4332—2004, Class 2.1 Flammable Gases like LPG must be segregated by at least 3 metres from both Class 2.2 (5.1) Non-Flammable, Oxidising Gases AND Class 2.3 Toxic Gases. Apart from their physical placement, this can also be achieved by using screen walls. These screen walls must be
- Made of a non-combustible material
- Impervious to vapours
- At least 1 metre taller than the highest cylinder in store.
Separation and segregation distances can vary depending on the quantity of LPG you store as well as the other Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Chemicals used onsite.
IMPORTANT: Empty LPG cylinders must be separated from full cylinders, then stored and handled in exactly the same way as if they still contained gas (because actually they still do). So you’ll need separate cylinder stores for your empties, and they’ll need to be segregated properly too.
Additional precautions for flammable gases
Cylinder stores for LPG and other flammable gases have additional precautions and requirements under the Standard. These include:
- Outdoor LPG cylinder stores must be at least 1 metre from windows, doors, air vents and ducting.
- Ignition sources (including anything that could generate static electricity like a mobile phone) must not be located in the store
LPG is extremely flammable so it’s especially important to think about your site operations and the types of activities and where they could possibly take place. How about outdoor repairs that involve cutting or grinding tools that create sparks? Or outdoor spray painting that use aerosol cans that generate static electricity. Even workers removing PPE or using fire extinguishers can create static electricity. Again carefully consider the location of your LPG cylinder stores to make sure they are well away from these work activities.
REMEMBER: In a fire emergency situation flammable gases like LPG will feed the fire, can rupture catastrophically, can become projectiles, and can be knocked over by the pressure of water from a hydrant or monitor. Take these facts into consideration when selecting the location of your LPG cylinder store.
If you use and store LPG cylinders at your worksite and are unclear on your legal obligations, why not download our free eBook Gas Cylinder Storage: Compliance and Safety Requirements. We present the requirements of AS 4332—2004 in clear, easy-to-read text and use real world examples of workplace incidents and accidents involving gas cylinders. Download it today by clicking on the image below: