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Important considerations for LPG tank safety

Calor Gas infographic on the do's and don'ts of safe LPG tank storage
When an LPG tank is first installed, it will be located to take into consideration compliance with Codes of Practice regarding LPG tank installations, safe distances from buildings and other structures, ensuring that the proper gas pipe connection have been made and that access and a clear line of sight is available for safe LPG delivery for continued maintenance. However, over time it is easy to overlook some of the important dos and don’ts of maintaining LPG tank safety. 
To coincide with Gas Safety Week 2021, which takes place from 13-19 September, Aimee Bendall, Risk Assessment Project Co-ordinator at Calor, looks at what LPG tank owners should take into consideration for ongoing safety and preventing harm to you, your LPG tank and surrounding buildings. 

Do maintain the safety distances set out during installation 

Changes to a site are inevitable over time, but it is vital that LPG customers remain mindful of the safety distances calculated when the tank was first installed for their own protection and that of our people and the tank. 

The original location of the LPG tank would have been determined in relation to its size and the proximity to other structures, buildings and parked cars to guarantee its safety and negate accidental damage. Adding sheds, greenhouses, fences, drains, openings, shrubs and screening, or choosing to create extra storage over the top of the tank and building structures closer or over the tank site, can quickly eat into these vital, required safety distances. Therefore, such additions must be avoided at all times. 

Visual screening should be sited on two sides only and no closer than 1m metre from the tank to ensure adequate ventilation and access to the vessel for maintenance purposes. All areas of the tank also need to be reachable by our Calor engineers and delivery drivers to fill the tank safely.
 
Maintaining this original space, whether the tank is full or empty, is essential to ensure it will not be affected should any building catch fire or collapse, for instance, inadvertently causing harm to the tank’s structure. Safety distances also allow any gas escape to disperse efficiently.

It can also be tempting to park vehicles next to the tank. Should the tank be located near a driveway, loading or delivery area or carpark, there are simple measures that can be put in place to ensure safe distances are kept consistent. Suitable vehicle protection, posts, kerbing or fencing, set around the tank at an appropriate distance can stop cars or vans accidentally driving into or over it in the case of an underground tank.

And, although it may sound obvious, all flammable materials and building supplies, such as pallets, need to be kept well away too, to comply with the safety distance calculated when the tank was first installed. This is something that can so often be forgotten on a busy site. 

Don’t attempt to move the tank yourself

There can be a temptation to move your LPG tank out of the way when not in use, especially when the fuel is used to meet seasonal needs. As well as breaking the original agreements drawn up when the tank was put in place, there are some serious safety considerations that this brings into play. 

We have seen instances of the tank being dented or damaged after being moved using a forklift truck or tractor or even put inside a building with LPG left inside, both of which breach the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and essential safety criteria and runs the risk of causing gas leaks. If it is necessary to move your LPG tank, please contact our Customer Engineering team on 0345 605 4500. Please call in advance so that our team can arrange for a Calor engineer to visit your site or home.  

Don’t disconnect or connect the tank yourself

Although some LPG users may feel confident enough to disconnect the gas pipes from the tank, move it and then reconnect when it is needed, this is another action to be avoided. You do need Calor’s permission to move a tank as we’ll need to ensure it still complies to safety standards and choosing to detach pipes yourself comes with considerable risk. 

Correct PPE needs to be worn, including eye protection to helmets, gloves and safety clothing that can withstand sparks, as there is a possibility of inhaling the gas or suffering painful cold burns by those with insubstantial protection. Making sure the connections are correct requires training and expertise, and we have seen instances of the wrong makes and design of pipes being attached, posing unnecessary, serious dangers. As all Calor’s engineers are fully trained and qualified to work with LPG and the associated equipment, it is a job better left to the experts.  

In fact, no person should carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting or gas storage vessel unless he is competent to do so and by completing an Industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence from Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations and be Gas Safe registered. 

Do keep the space above an underground tank free 

It might be out of sight, but the same principles of not building over or around also apply to underground tanks, to help keep the tank safe and damage-free. Access will be required around the turret to refill and maintain the tank, so it is important not to build over the top of its location or alter ground finish levels, or plant deep rooted shrubs and bushes over the tank. 

Do consult Calor experts

As every site requirement will differ, we have a team of experts on hand to advise and help maintain LPG tank safely. Our team of qualified and experienced engineers can advise not only during the initial installation of the tank, but also whether a safe move is possible, and the associated help needed to relocate your LPG tank. Using Calor to carry out any work on your tank alongside employing competent LPG-qualified and Gas Safe Registered engineers for any related infrastructure work, will help safeguard your site and avoid unnecessary risks. 

Operating the most extensive LPG network in the UK, together with two of Europe’s largest LPG gas storage terminals, Calor has the capacity to store around 100,000 tonnes of LPG gas. Further supported by a nationwide network of qualified, LPG specialist engineers, providing 24/7 emergency cover, 365 days a year, we’re there to support you, when it’s needed most.