News Release USDL: 96-506
Tuesday, December 10, 1996
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Warns Against Propane Tank Hazards
Attaching a regulator outside the protective collar
surrounding the neck of a propane tank can be deadly, the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cautions.
The agency recently issued a hazard information bulletin to
its compliance officers notifying them that propane tanks
commonly found on construction sites may have regulators that
extend outside the collars. The protective collar is designed to
prevent damage to valves. These extensions leave the regulators
--and attached equipment such as blowtorches--vulnerable if the
tank is dropped or struck by a heavy object.
In one case, a worker entered a confined space to clear ice
from a manhole using a blowtorch with a regulator attached
outside the collar of a 20-pound propane cylinder. The cylinder
fell, the regulator detached from the valve, and propane was
released into the manhole. The propane caught fire inside the
confined space, and the worker burned to death.
OSHA regulations require that for most operations, propane
tanks be placed outside buildings. When this is not possible,
the standards call for regulators to be attached directly to the
valve on the tank and protected from damage by a collar or other
safeguard. Further, OSHA standards require employees to receive
training on how to do their jobs safely. The National Fire
Protection Association, which sets voluntary safety standards,
also has recommendations covering protection for valves and
connections such as regulators as well as requirements for
appropriate employee training.
The hazard information bulletin, "Attaching an Unguarded
Blowtorch Regulator to a Portable Propane Cylinder," dated Oct.
7, 1996 is available on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov under
Other OSHA Documents, Hazard Information Bulletins. OSHA
construction standards governing propane tanks (Subpart F, Fire
Protection and Prevention) and similar general industry standards
(Subpart H, Hazardous Materials) also can be found on the
Internet under Standards. The hazard information bulletin also
will be placed on an upcoming issue of the OSHA CD-ROM.