What are the Forklift Propane Tank Inspection Requirements?

Forklift Propane Tank Inspection Requirements

Do you still use an old model propane-powered forklift in your facility? Chances are the tank installed to it is also old and may require inspection. The inspection is necessary to keep the safety of the operator and the condition of the equipment.

Is the forklift tank inspection requirement mandatory? If so, where does the law on this subject exist for everyone to follow? Well, the specific regulation on this specific matter is 49 CFR § 173.301(a)(2). This states the requirement for visual inspection of the cylinder prior to refilling. Any damage, such as the ones mentioned below, will render the cylinder subject to requalification and should not, therefore, be refilled or transported.

While NFPA 58 chapter 4-2.4, clearly mentioned the requirement for an inspection. The connecting hose should be visually inspected for propane leaks or physical damage. Any defect found in the hose should be repaired or replaced.

The best way to inspect a forklift propane tank is to have an experienced technician do it for you. They will be able to tell if there are any signs of flaws and defects in the tank. If you’re not sure how to go about this, then you should contact your supplier or manufacturer for more information.

Although an operator or a worker can perform a visual inspection before every use of the forklift to make sure there are no leaks or cracks in the tank, it is still advisable to have trained personnel do the inspection especially when there is a large number of cylinders being used in the facility.

Contact a dealer or manufacturer in your area to request, that they have a professional inspector who can assist you in this undertaking. Have your tanks inspected and have peace of mind.

Significant Damages, Defects, and Flaws that Will Prevent the Tank from Being Refilled During Inspection

  • Cracks, dents, deformity and bulging on the cylinder exterior wall – these defects are significant enough to render the cylinder subject to repair. Only a qualified technician must perform the repair and not just an ordinary person.

  • A defective valve that is difficult to rotate or a leaking pressure relief valve – if the smell of rotten egg is present during the inspection, it is a telltale sign that there is a leak in the valve.

  • Physical abuse – forklift propane tanks are commonly mishandled during transport and therefore physical abuse is a common occurrence. Dented portions and deformed collars are some of the signs that are had been through abuse.

  • Thermal damage – browning, discoloration or peeling of the paint can be construed as heat damage. The heat can significantly weaken the metal of the tank, when filled with pressure, the affected portion can rupture and a gas burst can occur.

  • Corrosion and rust – These are common on old and obsolete forklift tanks; when the tanks is considerably old, there is a good chance it is already expired and are subject to recertification. Check the collar of the tank to see the recertification date.

  • Lost collar – this is where important information about the tank is indicated. If the collar is not present, the tank should not be refilled or used.

Best Practices When Inspecting Propane Tanks

  • Prior to refilling, the recertification date must be checked. Omitting to check the recertification date is common for workers performing the inspection. If you’re the one responsible for this activity, have an inspection checklist. Any tanks that are passed or due for recertification should not be refilled.

  • Regular monitoring of the propane tanks is a good practice to perform by the business owner. What is going to monitor? Things such as the condition of the tank, recertification date, rebuild or repair date, on what vehicle it is installed to, and other information that may be deemed necessary for the monitoring.

  • Label each tank of the gas it contains. This is to ensure that easy identification can be done prior to the use of the cylinder. This item is only applicable when there are a number of types of gas used on the job site and not only propane.

  • Remove any paper or plastic sticker attached to the shell this may hide flaws and defects that may not visible to the eyes.

  • Requalification and recertification must only be done by a trained professional or in a DOT-authorized facility before the cylinder can be put back to service. No person untrained in this matter is allowed to do the recertification.

  • If “XXX” is found above the DOT number during an inspection on the collar, bottom ring, or in the shell of the tank, or there is a “condemned” mark, put the cylinders with those marks out of service.

  • Valves and hoses should also be inspected before refilling. Valves have soft parts made of nylon or rubber that can become brittle over time, propane liquid or vapor can leak and create dangerous situations.

Common Mistakes in the Process of Getting a Forklift Propane Tank Inspection Done

  • Not getting tanks inspected at all – some people omit while others commit. If you do not get your forklift propane tanks inspected, you are risking serious injury to yourself or your workers. Getting them inspected will able you to determine if the tanks are safe for use and require disposal.

  • Not hiring a professionally-trained inspector to do the inspection – a professional inspector will be able to check for any defects, leaks, corrosion, dents, and other damage that could potentially cause an explosion or fire. The inspector can also verify if there are any problems with the valve or pressure relief device that might cause an unsafe release of propane gas.

  • Not scheduling an appointment with the inspector – the inspector needs to know when they can come and inspect your forklift propane tanks in your facility. Schedule the inspection in advance. The inspection is going to take a long time, so it is important that you inform the inspector in advance.

  • Contracting a company that doesn’t have a DOT-approved facility or hiring a professional who doesn’t have experience in inspecting propane tanks. Don’t base your judgment on the inspection cost but rather look at the reputation of the company instead.

To Make a Finalization

A forklift propane tank can be a major safety hazard and therefore adherence to inspection requirements is a must. The regulation and code above must be followed in the maintenance and inspection of your forklift tanks.

The most appropriate way in performing an inspection is by hiring a professional. You can contact a local propane tank dealer in your area, they should have someone qualified to do the job.

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