Whenever you’re welding, safety is extremely important. Even experienced welders need to review safety procedures when they’re working with welding gases, like propane. Propane gas is highly flammable and in certain circumstance explosive. It also causes freezer burns when it comes into contact with your skin and getting it in your eyes can even cause permanent vision impairment.
Ignoring safety measures and not following the safety instructions detailed in the Propane Material Safety Data Sheet, can be deadly. We’ve made up a list of 5 safety guidelines for working with propane below to show you how important following safety measures is for ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you. Our tips are not a substitute for learning and following all safety instructions. After reading our tips, we highly recommend that you go back and read the MSDS for propane.
1. Post & Read Safety Information: The safety information that comes with propane, like the Propane Material Safety Data Sheet is not a set of instructions you can ignore. It’s absolutely a must for you to read and follow all safety instructions for handling and storing propane. Propane is a safe gas as long as you follow all the safety precautions. Posting and reading safety instructions is the foundation of workplace and workroom safety, especially when working with welding gases, including propane. We know at least one high school engineering teacher who won’t let his students touch any equipment unless they pass a safety test with a score of 100%. Follow that standard when it comes to propane safety no matter how old or experienced you are.
2. Avoid Heat: NO SMOKING! Propane gas is Extremely Flammable and Prone to Explosion. Keep tanks away from open flames, sparks, heat, and sunlight. The propane in your tank is under pressure and can explode if it’s heated. If a fire should start do not try to put the fire out unless and until the flow of propane can be immediately and safely stopped. Leave the area and let the fire burn if you can’t and get others out of the area regardless If you hear a rising sound, get out and away from the area immediately.
3. Protect yourself: Propane can burn your eyes and skin. If it gets on your skin, it can cause a frostbite type burn. Always wear cold insulating gloves and clothing, splash proof safety glasses, and a face shield. Make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area. Propane gas reduces the amount of oxygen available for breathing. If your workspace isn’t well ventilated, you can suffocate.
4. Storage: Store your propane tanks away from sunlight, in a well ventilated and locked area. It’s not safe to store your propane tanks in a basement, garage, or another area of your home. Also, do not leave or transport propane tanks in closed vehicles, including cars and trucks. Transport tanks in a standing position, and secure with a rope, not a chain. Make sure tank valves are locked and covered.
5. No open valves or leaks: Don’t let your propane tank run out. You might think an empty propane tank is safe. WRONG! If you leave a valve open and your tank runs out, the next time you refill it with propane, you could wind up with a leak. Oxygen and propane are a highly explosive mixture. Have your propane provider check for leaks and set up a regular delivery or refill schedule so your tank is never empty. Don’t try to patch leaks. Purchase new rubber tubing instead. Better yet, have a professional repair the damage instead. And again, turn your propane tank off when you’re done using it, even on an empty tank.
These are not all the safety instructions for propane and are not a substitution for reading the Propane Material Safety Data Sheet. Propane gas can be safe to work with, but you can’t take shortcuts in handling, storage, and protection when you’re working with propane or welding equipment in general. Know the safety precautions and refresh yourself with them even if you think you know them well. Don’t take the safety of yourself, your workers, your students, or your family for granted.
Remember, propane is a very flammable gas. Stay alert. Follow safety precautions. Don’t get lazy about safety. If you have any questions about propane safety, propane gas for welding, or welding in general, feel free to contact us. Vern Lewis Welding Supply Inc. is dedicated to the greater Phoenix, AZ welding community, including providing training for the welders of today and tomorrow. Be safe.
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