HSE has identified an issue as they became aware of a number of fires on and around LPG-powered FLT and other similar vehicles during the starting process.
Build-ups of deposits within the fuel system, particularly in the vaporiser units but also in the flow regulators and shut off valves, have been noted as a causal factor of these fires as these deposits can cause the truck to not start, especially from cold. A build-up of the deposit can lead to sticking valves and or the fuel mixture being too rich to ignite.
Repeated attempts can result in the release of unburned LPG which in the right circumstances can be ignited, setting fire to the vehicle or its surrounds.
What action is required by responsible persons and operators?
- Review procedures in place (SSoW) with regards to how LPG powered lift trucks and similar vehicles are used.
- Provide information, instruction and training about the hazards raised in this alert to all relevant operatives / users.
- Park LPG vehicles in well-ventilated areas free from flammable material, particularly when parking overnight or for long periods.
- Ensure that the truck is subject to regular planned preventative maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Operators, 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 you are 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 and remember, LPG is cold, take appropriate precautions when working with it. Once released LP gas is heavier than air and can pool in low lying areas, where it can be ignited by any source of ignition, including static electricity, electrical sparks and hot surfaces.
It is important to remember....
Not only should this fire/explosion hazard be managed due to the Fire Risk Assessment of the site (with reference made to the risk and how it is managed included within it), but also due to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) which stipulates in Provision 12 (1):
”Every employer shall take measures to ensure that the exposure of a person using work equipment to any risk to his health or safety from any hazard specified in paragraph (3) is either prevented, or, where that is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled.”
Within the afore mentioned paragraph (3) it specifies the following relevant hazards:
• (c) work equipment catching fire or overheating;
• (d) the unintended or premature discharge of any article or of any gas, dust, liquid, vapour or other substance which, in each case, is produced, used or stored in the work equipment;
• (e) the unintended or premature explosion of the work equipment or any article or substance produced, used or stored in it.
Employers, managers, supervisors, and FLT operators should be ensuring their risk assessments, safe working procedures, and any safety-related information provided to employees, contractors or visitors are checked to ensure they are up-to-date and relevant.
If you are operating LPG powered FLT within your business, you should ask yourself the following;
• Is this information relevant to your operation and does either the risk assessment or Safe System of Work (SSoW) need amendment / and then, in turn does information need passing on to the workforce?
• Are either the manufacturer’s instructions or a written-up procedure based on them, readily available to LPG powered FLT operator(s) regarding their safe use?
• Are the precautions within the FLT risk assessment / SSoW followed in practice?