Occupational Health Hazards of Liquified Petroleum Gas

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) can pose a serious health hazard in the workplace. The chemical properties of LPG, combined with its potential for combustion and the associated risks of leaks and exposure to combustion byproducts, make it essential to handle, store, and use LPG safely to mitigate health hazards and prevent accidents. 

What Is Liquified Petroleum Gas?

LPG is a colourless, odourless, flammable gas. It is a mixture of propane and butane with smaller amounts of isobutane, butylene, and other hydrocarbons. When sold and shipped, an odorant (such as Methyl Mercaptan) is added. 

What are the Common Uses of Liquified Petroleum Gas?

LPG is widely used as a fuel for domestic or camping heating and cooking appliances. It is also used as a lighter fuel, refrigerant, propellant in aerosols, substitute for gasoline and in the production of other chemicals and plastics. 

Why Is Liquified Petroleum Gas Harmful?

LPG is an asphyxiant gas that can cause unconsciousness and/or death if oxygen levels are sufficiently reduced. May displace oxygen and cause rapid suffocation. LPG is also an extremely flammable gas and is a gas under pressure; which may explode if heated. 

Side Effects of Inhaling Liquified Petroleum Gas

Exposure to LPG is mainly by inhalation or by eye and skin contact. Inhaling LPG vapor at high concentration even for a short time can cause asphyxiation, seizures, comas, heart problems and death.  

Inhalation of LPG may cause drowsiness or dizziness and respiratory irritation (cough, sneezing, headache, nose and throat pain). Long-term exposure may lead to central nervous system damage, nosebleeds, rhinitis, oral/nasal ulcerations, conjunctivitis, weight loss and fatigue. 

Eye and skin irritation may occur due to contact with LPG. LPG released under pressure can cause frostbite burn due to rapid temperature decrease. Symptoms of frostbite include permanent eye damage or blindness, change in skin color to white or grayish-yellow. 

Who Needs to Be Concerned About LPG Hazards in the Workplace

Both employers and employees need to be aware of LPG hazards so that safety precautions are taken. Exposure to LPG may be due to accidental emissions of vapours or gases from pressurised equipment, a leak from containment or release during breaking containment in the following workplaces:

  • Natural gas processing facilities. 
  • Crude oil treatment processes in petroleum refineries, distillation, cracking or reforming.
  • Manufacture of refrigerants and aerosols.
  • Manufacture of chemicals using LPG as chemical feedstock.
  • Loading, unloading, transportation and storage.
  • Filling/transfer stations.

How to Mitigate the Hazards of LPG in the Workplace  

If your workplace uses liquified petroleum gas, it is important to familiarize yourself with the safety data sheets and carefully read chemical labels to prevent exposure. If you would like to elevate the occupational health standards for your company, contact Chemscape Safety Technologies today. 


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