OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
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.
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