Following a RIDDOR report of a dangerous flammable gas incident (Liquefied Petroleum Gas or LPG) at a poultry farm in County Fermanagh to the HSENI Gas Safety Team, it was found that the manner in which a flexible hose supplying an overhead brooder had caused it to come into contact with a hot surface and rupture, releasing LPG into the poultry house causing significant fire damage to the building.
The results of this investigation have been twofold:
- HSENI Inspectors have carried out random inspections of poultry house installations throughout Northern Ireland and discovered a varying quality of installation and bulk storage tank safety
- a lack of knowledge has been identified regarding gas safety issues within the agricultural sector which has lead to the production of this safety alert to hopefully provide guidance on how to manage the risks of these installations more effectively.
Bulk LPG storage tanks
In the vast majority of cases the tank will be owned by the company that supplies the gas, but if you are unsure then you should check this with your own supplier. In general, the supplier will look after the tank and its fittings (their integrity and maintenance) but again check this with your supplier if you are unsure, as legally it needs to be maintained in a safe condition.
The user of the LPG (that is the person operating the site) does have responsibilities in relation to the tank including:
- siting of the tank
- ventilation and conditions around the tank (control of vegetation, new buildings etc)
- tanker access
- impact protection from vehicles
- emergency arrangements
For further information regarding Bulk LPG Tank Storage and underground supply pipework for small commercial applications please visit the HSE(GB) website at the following link:
- Safe use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at small commercial and industrial bulk installations - HSE (GB) website
Gas installation pipework and appliances
Any person carrying out work on gas installation pipework and appliances needs to be competent and experienced in this area of work. Many specialist companies carry out gas work within the agricultural industry and may have manufacturer training or formal accredited certification scheme qualifications.
Some companies may hold Gas Safe Registration and have registered competent engineers this provides a means for you to check the qualifications and competence of the person carrying out works.
It is important that you know the location of your Emergency Control Valves, that they are kept in good service and unobstructed and that you and your staff are familiar with the emergency procedures and contact numbers for your gas supplier.
- Bulk Supplies (Tanks) LPG - at present only two known bulk suppliers are in Northern Ireland. See tank for supplier details or call Calor (NI): 0845 900 5253 or Flo-Gas: 028 9045 5588
- Gas Cylinders LPG - various suppliers throughout Northern Ireland - obtain details from cylinder
Internal pipework and appliance safety
It is also important that pipework is tightness tested (checked for gas leaks at appropriate intervals) on installation then every three to five years after initial installation and immediately after any alterations. These time periods may need to be shortened in high risk areas such as corrosive atmospheres, this can be confirmed by a competent gas engineer.
Use of appliances
All gas equipment used in Northern Ireland should have an appropriate CE marking and user instructions should be made available to all staff who operate this equipment.
Maintenance and servicing
The limitations of cleaning and repair that can be carried out by the farmer are usually detailed in the manufacturers user instructions.
The details of inspection, servicing and repair that will require a competent gas engineer will also be detailed in the manufacturers instructions together with recommended timescales these should be reviewed regularly to ensure effective servicing is taking place.
We would recommend that service and test records are requested from any gas engineer carrying out work and kept for minimum of two years for insurance and legal purposes.
These records may also indicate corrective action required it is important that these recommendations acted upon and actions recorded.