The U.S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration specifies regulations for propane tanks that focus on tank and component testing. These regulations also detail the tank's location relative to buildings and activity, nameplate markings and how tanks are repaired or modified. OSHA also outlines quality and performance standards for the propane tank and all of its components.
System Components Testing
OSHA refers to the propane tank, regulators, gauges, hoses, piping, tubing, valves and fittings collectively as a system, LP (liquefied petroleum) gas container, or LP system. The agency requires certain components depending on the tank capacity. The individual components must be tested by a recognized testing laboratory. Laboratory approval shows that system components meet thickness, pressure and construction standards. While OSHA outlines many of its own requirements, it also requires systems to conform to American Society of Mechanical Engineers rules, U.S. Department of Transportation regulations and American Petroleum Institute specifications.
OSHA dictates how close the propane tank system may be to buildings, ignitable materials, cutting torches, welders and tanks containing flammable liquids. For example, Table H-23 of Standard 1910.110 tells how many feet the system must be located from the nearest building, based on tank capacity and whether the tank is above or below ground. Another table, Table H-28, designates distances portable electric tools or open flames must be kept from the LP system. OSHA also specifies that weeds, dry grass and other ignitable material must be kept at least 10 feet from containers.
LP systems must be marked with the name and address of the container supplier (or tank trade name), container capacity in pounds or gallons, pressure, fill level, square foot outside surface, and whether the container is designed for installation above ground or underground. These markings must be on a metal plate attached to the container. Content must also be marked if other gases are stored or used nearby. OSHA requires tanks to be marked by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors.
Tank Repairs and Modifications
OSHA regulates repairs to LP systems that require welding. Tank owners or repair personnel must be familiar with the regulatory codes and standards under which the tanks were manufactured. Welding repairs to any system component that is subject to internal pressure must comply with these fabrication codes. Other welding is only allowed on saddle plates, brackets or lugs.