The HSE has issued a safety notice following a number of fires associated with LPG powered forklift trucks and other similar vehicles during starting. This notice is applicable to anyone responsible for operating, supplying, inspecting or maintaining LPG powered forklift trucks.
The issue of concern is the build-up of deposits in fuel systems, in particular, the vaporiser units of LPG powered vehicles, which has led to a number of fires. The build-up can cause valves to stick which can in turn prevent trucks from starting, particularly from cold, and the mixture supplied to the engine being too rich to be ignited. Unburned LPG can then be released on repeated attempts to start the trucks, which in extreme cases can be ignited, setting fire to the vehicle and surrounding materials.
The HSE is urging operators to take the following action:
- review your safe system of work in relation to the use of all LPG powered lift trucks and similar vehicles
- provide information, instruction and training for all operators about the hazards raised in this alert
- park LPG vehicles in well-ventilated areas free from flammable material, particularly when parking overnight or for longer periods
If a truck does not start within the normal few seconds
- do NOT continue to turn (crank) the engine over using the starter
- do NOT repeat the normal engine starting procedure
- do NOT spray volatile agents into the air intake in an attempt to aid starting
- get off the truck and close the shut off valve to isolate the gas bottle
- secure the truck to prevent further starting attempts
- ensure the area is well ventilated
- do NOT attempt to solve or repair the problem yourself, arrange for a competent maintenance engineer to do a check of the LPG system
Service and maintenance engineers
If presented with an LPG powered truck with a starting problem:
- do NOT follow the normal starting procedure
- isolate the LPG supply by closing the shut-off valve
- ensure that the area is well-ventilated
- disconnect the battery
- release LPG pressure trapped in the fuel supply system
- follow the manufacturer’s guidance for inspection of the LPG system
LPG is cold and appropriate precautions should be taken when working with it. LPG is heavier than air once released and can pool in low lying areas. Here it can be ignited by any source of ignition, including static electricity, electrical sparks and hot surfaces.
EML’s Health, Safety & Wellbeing Consultant Joanne Howley comments:
“When doing risk assessments, it is important to consider any fire / explosion risks that could be posed and consider the appropriate control measures to be implemented to reduce that risk. Do not forget to include hazards introduced by maintenance and cleaning and the required control measures and procedures in both risk assessments and safe systems of work.”
If you’re an employer and have any concerns in this regard, or have any other Health & Safety and Wellbeing issues, please contact us on 01942 727200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to one of our Health & Safety Consultants for an initial consultation without charge or obligation.