Throughout 2023, UKMHA received numerous reports of premature failures due to the quality of some of the LPG fuel being placed on the UK market. The association is of the view that it now appeared contaminant issues were causing vaporisers to become clogged and in the process, creating a risk of fire.
The circumstances are currently being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, but it appears that LPG fuel containing contamination, not present historically, is being placed on the UK market and that the fuel standard BS4250 does not provide adequate controls for this contamination.
The HSE investigation is ongoing and the problem continues to pose a risk to all LPG fuelled trucks, irrespective of manufacturer. UKMHA expects the HSE investigation to lead to a revision of BS 4250 and has repeatedly urged that enquiries be concluded expeditiously.
The HSE investigation is being carried out by a multi-disciplinary team comprising of regulatory, technical, scientific, product safety and industry experts. The executive has declared that it will share any safety critical or other information as appropriate.
Equipment with many years of proven reliability, both in the UK and around the world, is liable to experience premature failure when this fuel is used. However, the association stated that the problem appears to be confined to fuel supplied in the UK only, with issues concentrated in central and northern England.
The HSE has established the cause of three fires to be a sticking component in one make and model of vaporiser leading to release of unignited gas.
Vaporisers from the affected forklift trucks and a range of other models were tested by the executive’s Science Division (SD), which revealed the presence of sticky contamination from LPG affecting all makes of truck.
The association can confirm that the manufacturer of the make and model of vaporiser identified by HSE has now made a retrofit modified unit available, via lift truck manufacturers. This will reduce the risk of future fires, but does not prevent the clogging, which is due to fuel quality.
UKMHA has been closely monitoring the situation in response to concerns from its members and has now updated its LPG – Cold Starting Safety Alert.
It states that use of contaminated fuel can cause deposits in the truck’s fuel system leading to, for example, blocked vaporisers and sticking valves. Repeated or prolonged starting attempts on affected equipment can release unburned LPG, potentially creating a fire risk.
Importantly, the revised safety alert provides expanded advice both for equipment operators and service/maintenance engineers.
UKMHA technical director David Goss, said: “UKMHA is aware of a number of incidents where both operators and technicians have attempted to aid starting through unorthodox and unapproved methods.”
He continued: “Operating and maintenance practices need to be adapted to consider additional risks.”
“Equipment operators and those maintaining and servicing equipment are advised to follow the guidelines as laid out in the Safety Alert.”
For more information, visit https://rebrand.ly/LPGcoldstart
Disclaimer. The legislative information contained on this web site is my interpretation of the law based on many years in the health and safety business. A definitive interpretation can only be given by the courts. I will therefore not be held responsible for any accident/incident/prosecution arising as a consequence of anyone using any information obtained from this web site.
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