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Safe handling of 500 gallon propane tanks?

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by digger242j, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    I'm curious as to what you all think...

    A development of single family homes. During the cold weather season, until the gas service is hooked up and the furnace is running, the home builder uses propane heaters, fueled from 500 gallon tanks. The excavating contractor is tasked with moving them around as requested. I know the lifting eyes at the ends are not supposed to be used when the tank is full, but are okay to use when it's empty. Someone thinks it's okay to use a large CTL with forks to move them when they're not empty. Just fork em up the same as if they were a lift of 2x4s. I'm not so sure.

    Opinions?
     
  2. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

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    I used to work at a propane company. We lifted tanks by the eyes (and feet) when full all the time. Flipped them upside down on 2x4s. My favorite way to move them was to fork them into the feet at the end. Empty or full. I now own that fork lift. Be careful of valves on the bottom of the tank but otherwise fine. Do not fork them from the side. They will roll right off when you hit the brakes in the slightest. Ask me how I know. When they are full you are supposed to use slings but nobody does.
     
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  3. Labparamour

    Labparamour Senior Member

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    No baffles so, sloshing liquid could also cause tense moments if moving across uneven construction site...

    Darryl
     
  4. redneckracin

    redneckracin Senior Member

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    Personally, I think I would want to pick them up by the end with forks, or better yet, make a steel skid with fork pockets that has the tank bolted or strapped down. Either that or load them onto a trailer and move them that way....
     
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  5. Wytruckwrench

    Wytruckwrench Well-Known Member

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    What Birken said. They are easy and safe.
     
  6. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    Well, ok.

    Picking them up endwise isn't going to happen, because that would mean someone would have to adjust the width of the forks every time, and that would take some effort and initiative, if you get my drift.

    The reason I asked was that I watched someone move one. After the initial attempt to get under it, during which they poked the side of the tank with the tip of the fork, they got it on the forks, only to have it slide off sideways because they took off across the yard, which sloped to the side.

    I know I wasn't watching a safe operator. I just wondered whether I was watching an unsafe operator performing an equally unsafe procedure...
     
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  7. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

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    The only time I have seen one dent was when moving a load of empties a crane swung one into another end to end. Put a small dent in the head, still witin allowable spec IIRC.

    Still I can imagine a larger fork lift with sharper corners on the forks could gouge one pretty bad if hit in the wrong area. They have specs for gouges too. But I doubt anyone attempting to move could accidentally puncture in one hit.

    The real danger is rolling over snapping off a valve. Some of the valves have internal safeties, others you would be looking at a wide open hole into the belly of the beast. That is why forking from the side got me up tight, if it rolls off it already has a good rolling momentum and then over it goes right onto the valve area upside down.
     
  8. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    Mount the LP tank on a wagon running gear like they do with anhydrous ammonia .

    Hook on & roll it around as needed . [​IMG]
     
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  9. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    The only trouble with that is that there are about ten of them on the site, and usually they're placed in the backyards, which are often at basement level.

    And yeah, rolling one over and damaging the valves is one of the possibilities that concerns me.
     
  10. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    Homes on natural gas when project completed ?
     
  11. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    Yeah, the propane is only temporary.
     
  12. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

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    OK ... Another option would be 100 gal propane tanks . Something that size would be allot easier to handle with site equipment .




    [​IMG]

    Farmer I worked for back in the late 1980's ran propane tractors .

    The mobile fuel tank was a wagon mount 1,000 gallon . Used it for fields that were further out from home . Just called the gas company & gave them the location when it needed filled .
     
  13. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

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    I've never forked one from the end, I would think a lot of forklift forks would be too wide to fit in the feet. Whenever I've lifted one I've always rigged all the way around them. I don't trust the lifting lugs. Unless they're empty.

    I would think two endless round up slings and one on each fork, choked to the tank. You wouldn't have to worry about it rolling off the forks, or getting away from them. Also no worries about the handles.
     
  14. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

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    Some of the mountain comm sites here have propane tanks at the top. You can drive a truck to them in summer, maybe lose a tire or two. One they use a Cat to pull the propane truck up the road.

    In winter if the power goes down for a long time they helicopter full ones in and use a big mesh sling basket.
     
  15. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    Oh, there's a bunch of them around the site too. Although, now that you mention it, I haven't seen anyone try to pick one of those up with the forks.

    Slings is the way I've done it, and the way I'm comfortable doing it.

    I just asked because doing it the hurry up way sideways with the forks just seems like an accident waiting to happen.

    I kinda like the helicopter idea... :)
     
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  16. Old Doug

    Old Doug Senior Member

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    Do you have to have a liecence in PA to move them?
     
  17. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    I certainly hope not, for what I'm talking about. I'm only talking about moving them within the development itself, from one lot to another, not over the road.
     
  18. DoyleX

    DoyleX Senior Member

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    It usually goes like this. Nobody really thinks about it until a accident happens. Depending on the severity of the accident dictates on who gets involved, procedures and laws made. I spent 8 years in the LPG/NH3 transport industry watching rules change from goggles and a t shirt to a full hazmat suit with respirator.

    Worse case would be a uncontrolled loss of liquid due to a snapped valve or punctured tank. 200-400 gallons of liquid released in a short time on the wrong day could be a really big deal for a short time.

    I have seen a 1000gal nh3 storage tank rupture on the end weld.
    The Morris Missle http://www.dli.mn.gov/ccld/BoilerIncidentsPressure.asp
     
  19. Jumbo

    Jumbo Senior Member

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    I will jump in now, I would never carry any tank like that endo, watched a fire department video once and never again, the ends are the weak point, when a propane tank goes bang, it is designed to blow out an end, not split the tank. Looking at the picking eyes, I would fend to use them, the ones I have seen look well attached. Just to be rude, I would not pick one up and carry it with any hoe or excavator, unless the contractor had signed a release. I learned a long time ago to cover my azz with a piece of paper and "their signature" on it...
     
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  20. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    If you don't own the tank and its not your property, I'd opt out of it completely, around here they use a lifting caddy to pick them up, two wheeled and hooks to any hitch of anything, lifting straps to the top eye's and full or empty you can safely move them, the tank is cradled as you lift it and then strap the tank to the caddy, but its hazmat and you need to be licensed and insured and have hazmat credentials to handle them, not sure about your state, but for me, if i don't own the tank, and its not on my property, its illegal to handle or move them, the fines are pretty high if caught and if something would happen, no insurance coverage whatsoever.

    You can get DOT tanks, like the smaller barbecue grill tanks, some up to and over 400 gallons and those I can move and handle, but they need to be on a trailer and hooked to something on the trailer as a fuel source, doubt any house would qualify ever.

    As for putting an LP tank on a running gear, unless you own it and its your property and never go onto any road, you can do that, at least in my state, I have one mounted up on a wagon gear and move it from my bin site in the fall to shop in the winter for hooking to my shop heater, but I can't legally take it between farms down the road, it then becomes hazmat and I have to hire someone else to pull it for me, as in the LP supplier that sells me LP to fill it.

    But being a nice guy, the way I'd handle it is to tell whoever wants you move them, the price would be cash up front, about 25k per tank per move, that should more than cover all your costs, then turn around and hire the correct people to move them for you for far less and pocket the difference. The other way is to have the LP supplier move them as needed, they have insurance and the equipment to do the job right, if something happens, your not involved, much better for you and everyone else. Best of luck
     
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