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Standard fact sheet.
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Large print fact sheet.

Dangers of exposure to LPG 

A substance that can kill

In NSW, an apprentice gasfitter was left working alone to extend an existing liquid petroleum gas (LPG) installation. On cutting into a live gas main, escaping LPG gas entered the trench where the fitter was working, resulting in his unconsciousness and death.

Arrhythmia (disruption to the heart rhythm), was identified in the coronial report as the cause leading to the death, and its onset was traced to the effects of butane, a normal constituent of LPG. Asphyxiating conditions inside the trench would have been a contributing factor.

Working with LPG

All gasfitters need to be aware that exposure to LPG is dangerous. When working with LPG, it is vital to be alert to the following:

  • LPG concentrations as low as 2% will ignite in air
  • gas is heavier than air and will travel along floors, downhill into gullies and will settle in low spots, trenches or basements
  • at high concentrations, gas displaces air to cause asphyxiation
  • the butane component of LPG has the potential to cause toxic effect.

Connecting to LP gas  

When connecting an appliance to LP gas, gasfitters need to ensure:

  • the location of the cylinder must comply with AS1596
  • the inscription on a compliance plate must be legible and in letters 6mm high
  • that the regulator vent is facing down or cannot enable water ingress.

If an LP gas cylinder has not been tested for 10 years or more, it should not be connected to an appliance. The cylinder should be tagged as defective.

Under no circumstances should any attempt be made to modify a gas cylinder.

The dangers of small gas cylinders

Explosions and fires have occurred when cylinders of LP Gas (propane) or acetylene have been carried or left in closed vehicles, such as vans or cars.

LP gas is widely used by trades as a fuel for portable heating equipment, as well as by the public for barbecues and for camping. It is heavier than air, so it will accumulate in low areas rather than dissipate. It can generate an explosive mixture with air if the cylinder or attached equipment leaks.

Spark sources in the vehicle’s electrical components such as remote locking systems, electric motors (starter motor, wipers, aerial), ignition systems, radios and sound systems, cigarette lighters, and possibly light switches can ignite a flammable gas mixture. Lighting a cigarette in the vehicle will also ignite such a mixture.

LPG cylinders must be transported in the upright position and appropriately secured for transport.

Refillable LPG cylinders for gas appliances such as bbqs and heaters must only be filled if they have a current, legible test mark of a certified gas cylinder test station.

Periodic inspection intervals for retesting of welded cylinders less than 100 kg water capacity filled with LPG (typically connected to barbecues) is 10 years.

Filling LPG cylinders

Gas cylinder filling stations must only fill cylinders that have a current, legible test mark of a certified gas cylinder test station. They must also ensure that the cylinder complies with AS 2030 requirements prior to each filling.

If a gas filling station, as part of a cylinder exchange, accepts any cylinder that is not appropriately marked, they will have to either:

  • ensure the cylinder is inspected and test station-marked in accordance with AS 2030 before filling or refilling, or
  • dispose of the cylinder.

Purchasing a new or used refillable cylinder

Ask the retailer to show you the current, legible test mark and confirm that the cylinder they are selling can be legally filled in NSW. If there is no current legible test mark, the cylinder may not be safe to fill.

If you decide to purchase a cylinder without a current, legible test mark, the cylinder will need to be inspected by a certified gas cylinder test station and stamped with a test mark prior to filling. The test station may charge a fee for inspection and stamping.

Safety steps

To protect yourself and those working around you from the risk of serious injury resulting from exposure to LPG, conduct a thorough risk assessment of each and every job and take the following steps:

  1. Ensure appropriate supervision and inform others on site of potential hazards.
  2. Isolate the gas supply and drain residual line-gas pressure to where it is safe.
  3. Provide adequate ventilation, or breathing apparatus.
  4. Control and exclude all sources of ignition, including power tools and static.

Spill combat recommendations

In the event of a spill from a tank such as the one pictured below, follow the Hazchem 2YE spill combat recommendations. Use breathing apparatus and water fogging, contain the spill and consider evacuation. Search UN No.1075 for further information.

LP gas cylinder

Contractor's responsibilities

The Gas Supply (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2012 sets out the requirements for gasfitting work on gas installations. The procedures implemented to perform gasfitting work depend on the specifics of the site, which means the licensed installer must assess all aspects of risk for the work to be performed safely.

Ban on non-compliant LPG area heaters

A non-compliant area heater is an LPG fuelled heater that has an element (source of ignition) less than 1.8 metres from the ground. Area heaters are commonly referred to as Decorative outdoor heaters, Column heaters and Pyramid heaters. Some area heaters that do not comply with the Standard have been certified for sale.

Due to ongoing safety concerns, Fair Trading gazetted a Prohibition Order against the sale of non-compliant area heaters on 24 October 2014, regardless of whether they are certified. While it is an offence to sell non-compliant area heaters after this date, this is not a recall and those who already own them are not required to dispose of them.

If you are an LPG gas supplier, the Prohibition Order means that you cannot supply a non-compliant gas area heater as part of a lease agreement or sale. Clause 37 of the Gas (Consumer Safety) Regulation 2012 states that a person must not connect a gas appliance to a gas installation unless the gas appliance is certified and has a compliance label.

More information

For more information about LPG safety, visit the Fair Trading website or contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

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