Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Be Safe - Use Propane Tanks That Are Properly Certified

Did you know the propane tank on your forklift has a limited lifespane?  When is the last time you checked to see if your propane tank was out of certification? Do you even know where to check for your tanks certification date?  This article will provide you with information how to operate safely with properly certifed  propane tanks.
The most common type of LP Gas container is the propane cylinder, commonly known as a bottle. Cylinders range widely in size and use. Most people are familiar with propane bottles as the source of fuel for their gas grills. Industrial LP Gas consumers are also familiar as forklifts are commonly powered by propane and use cylinders as a portable gas supply source. Cylinders fall into two groups of propane service, liquid and vapor. Cylinders in liquid service are commonly found on forklifts while bottles in vapor service are easily spotted fueling a gas grill.

Propane powered forklifts primarily use 33 pound cylinders as their fuel source and are equipped for liquid service. Because the cylinders are designed for liquid service, they have to be placed properly on the lift truck to operate correctly. Improper cylinder installation can result in loss of power and eventually complete loss of engine functionality. Although industrial propane cylinders are within the 4-40 pound class, they do not require OPD valves in order to be refilled. When a 33 pound forklift cylinder is properly mounted on a lift truck, it will generally provide around 8 hours of continuous operation.

The most common portable tank is called a "DOT" tank, since it is built to conform to design and usage regulations established by the Federal Department of Transportation. Both horizontally and vertically mounted portable DOT tanks are available. The horizontal and vertical tanks are not interchangeable, and must be stored, filled, and used only in the specified horizontal or vertical mounting position.

National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) pamphlet 58 states that all DOT cylinders need to be recertified after 12 years from the manufacturing date and depending on what certifying method is used they are recertified every 5,7,12 years thereafter. Recertification involves a periodical documented inspection and testing of the cylinder to confirm that the cylinder is still safe and legal to remain in service.  The date of manufacturer are stamped on the bottle as shown in the photo above. 

When re-qualified, the portable propane cylinders must be marked according to DOT regulations. The marking must be made permanent through stamping or engraving and must include the month and year of the re-qualification, the method used and the re-qualifier's identification number. These markings must also follow one of four patterns specified in the DOT regulations to prevent tampering or other misuse