From powering home barbeques to torches and warehouse forklifts, propane is a useful and versatile gas. But it’s also a hazardous flammable material that carries huge amounts of explosive force because it’s pressurized. This is why the proper storage, handling and transportation of propane according to the regulations set by OSHA and CGA (Compressed Gas Association) is so essential. Although the list of OSHA’s storage and handling regulations is very long, the basic rules of handling and storing propane can be condensed as follows:
- Industrial facilities can store propane in cylinders within buildings not frequented by the public (such as industrial buildings) with the limit capped at 300 lbs. of propane. However, if the facility has special buildings or rooms dedicated to propane storage, the amount of propane allowed is 10,000 pounds. Designated rooms need to fulfill a number of very specific requirements listed on OSHA's website.
- OSHA specifies that cylinders cannot be stored near exits, stairways, entryways or close to high-traffic and busy areas.
- Propane cylinders mustn’t be stored close to or with other flammable or combustible materials
- They should be stored in cylinder safety cages or cabinets in flat areas that don’t collect water. They should be placed off the ground, on top of a surface that will not burn.
- Any not-in-use cylinders should be stored outside and in an open-air storage unit at least 20 feet from other buildings.
- Propane cylinders must never be stored or placed in an area of excessive heat (120 degrees or higher) or near a heat source.
- The cylinders should be stored in the proper orientation with the relief valve in direct contact with the vapor space in the container:
- Grill cylinders should be stored vertically.
- Forklift cylinders can be stored vertically or horizontally. When they are horizontal, the relief device must be located at the 12 o’clock position
- Cylinders must be protected from falling by using a chain or another adequate support systems. Consider securing each cylinder separately to prevent them all from falling when only one is removed from storage.
- The dates on the cylinder collar should be checked periodically to ensure that the cylinder is not past its requalification date and to replace or exchange cylinders that are out of date.
- Cylinders need to be checked for leaks and signs of rust and wear—even if they’re under their requalification date, they may still need to replaced if they’re in poor condition.
- Fire extinguishers should be placed within easy access of propane storage.
- Container valves must be protected while in storage by setting them into the container’s recess to prevent the possibility of being struck if the container is dropped, or by fastening to the container a ventilated cap or collar that is constructed so that a blow would not be transmitted to a valve or other connection.