The legal framework
Any business which operates an LPG installation has responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act (HSWA) 1974 and the subsidiary legislation outlined below to ensure that the installation is safe to operate and does not present a risk to their employees and members of the public.
Because some of the duties in relation to the storage tank may be addressed by its supplier, it is important for the user to work closely with their supplier in assessing and addressing any risks.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
These require an employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk that the installation could present and to identify suitable preventative measures; they also require the employer to appoint one or more competent persons to assist the employer in complying with the law.
- Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000
The user of a pressure system should not operate it unless they have established a written scheme for the periodic examination by a competent person for certain parts of the system and have it examined as described in this scheme. For an LPG installation, this would include the storage tank and possibly pipework in some cases. However, where the installed system is supplied under lease or hire and the supplier agrees in writing that they will undertake these responsibilities, then the user will be considered as having discharged them. This may often be the case with the storage tank, where the supplier may lease out the tank to the user.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
As the LPG tank and associated fittings and pipework may be considered as work equipment it will require maintenance and as work equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration liable to result in a dangerous situation, it will require an inspection regime to ensure health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time. You should liaise with the supplier of the LPG about maintenance since they are likely to own the tank and will have their own duties with respect to it and may maintain it. Applicable duties under the Regulations cannot be delegated.
- Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002
These regulations apply to work situations when a dangerous substance is present and presents a risk to physical safety from, in particular, fire or explosion. For LPG, when the supplier has provided an installation (eg tank) that meets the relevant standards, then the duties that fall on to the user will be to ensure that the necessary conditions under these regulations for ensuring safety are maintained, provide measures to deal with emergencies and make sure their own activities do not adversely affect the storage tank.
- Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
These cover LPG storage vessels and pipework only where the work premises themselves are covered by the regulations - mainly commercial premises such as offices, shops, hotels, schools, hospitals and similar places. These regulations do not apply to gas fittings used for the purposes of industrial processes carried out on industrial premises; nor do the Regulations generally apply to agricultural premises, factories, mines and quarries (but, if part of the premises is used for domestic or residential purposes or as sleeping accommodation then they do apply to these parts).