Portable gas heaters
The use of portable outdoor heaters with LP Gas cylinders is a convenient way to provide warmth to customers during the colder months of the year.
However, this convenience also brings risks to lives and property. Staff and business owners must be aware of dangers associated with LP Gas use, as they responsibilities for ensuring a safe environment and the need for implementing safe work.
If you have any questions regarding anything you have read, speak to your supervisor, employer or call WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.
Make gas safety part of your routine
1. Have a gas safety supervisor
Most hazards occur when LP Gas cylinders and portable gas outdoor heaters are not handled correctly. On every shift there should always be a supervisor responsible for the safe use and storage of any LP Gas and outdoor heaters. The supervisor should also ensure all staff have up-to-date training and awareness of safety guidelines.
2. Follow the gas safety rules
If you are involved in setting up heaters or connecting and changing cylinders you should be familiar with this safety information. Always use this information to ensure that LP Gas safety is maintained.
You should be aware of the manufacturer’s instructions on outdoor heater usage and the required clearances needed between outdoor heaters and other materials, how to check for gas connection leaks, how to handle LP Gas cylinders and how to store LP Gas cylinders.
Heater safety rules
1. Never use an outdoor heater indoors
Outdoor heaters are not suitable for indoor use and should only be used in well-ventilated outdoor areas. Poisonous gas can be released from faulty outdoor heaters used inside buildings and can lead to serious injury or death.
2. Keep outdoor heaters clear from awnings and combustible material
General clearances for patio heaters are 300mm to 500mm above and to the side of patio heaters and for radiant panel heaters 750mm to 1100mm depending on heat output.
All awnings, partitions and other combustible movable panels must not breach the minimum required clearance in any position. Different outdoor heaters have different clearance requirements so read the manufacturer’s instructions for specific requirements.
3. Put outdoor heaters on stable ground
An outdoor heater should be put on stable and level ground and must be protected from damage or interference to avoid the heater being knocked over and hitting people or causing a fire.
4. Provide enough clearance for people to move safely around portable heaters
Follow the general clearance guidelines of 300mm - 500mm for patio heaters or 750mm to 1100mm for radiant panel heaters when assessing walkway clearances for staff and customers. Use your common sense and if it looks dangerous, move the heater to a safer location.
1. Never use damaged or malfunctioning heaters, connection hoses or cylinders
Heaters which are burning yellow or producing soot require immediate attention. A damaged or malfunctioning heater, connection hose or cylinder must be removed from service immediately and marked ‘do not use’.
2. Service your heater at least every 2 years
Heaters need to be serviced every 2 years and more frequently if recommended by the manufacturer. Your supervisor should keep a register of heater service dates to ensure that the appliances are being serviced on a regular basis.
3. Check gas connections from cylinder to outdoor heater for leaks
Every time a cylinder is changed check for leaks at the connections using the soapy water test. To do this spray the connections with a soapy water solution – if bubbles form there is a leak. If a connection is loose it should be tightened. If a connection or hose is faulty or damaged it should be discarded. If in doubt, turn off the gas, notify your supervisor, employer or contact a licensed gasfitter.
4. Look for the AGA badge of compliance
Check that the Australian Gas Association badge of compliance is attached to all outdoor heaters on the premises. If you cannot find the compliance badge contact your supervisor, employer or call Energy Safe Victoria on 1800 652 563.
Correct storage and handling of LP Gas cylinders
Keep all LP Gas cylinders in a secure well-ventilated location
It is recommended that all cylinders not in use be kept in a secure outdoor location. This prevents the risk of LP Gas leaks which could lead to devastating explosions. If gas cylinders are being stored inside, there is a limit of 30kg total combined capacity for all cylinders present. The maximum cylinder size allowed is 15kg and only 10kg of cylinder size is allowed per 10 square metres of floor area.
If in doubt contact WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.
Wherever possible use fixed gas supply
It is strongly recommended that outdoor gas heaters be fixed, and fuelled from fixed piped gas supply, either natural gas or a remotely located LP Gas tank or cylinder. Portable outdoor heaters should only be used temporarily or where fixed piping is not feasible.
Using fixed piping avoids heaters being knocked over or damaged and removes the hazard of staff handling and storing LP Gas cylinders.
If you need further information on being gas safe you can contact:
Restaurant and Catering Victoria
Energy Safe Victoria