Forklift Trucks - Safe Handling of Propane (LPG) Fuel

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What should an operator do when handling a propane fuel cylinder?

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LPG stands for Liquid Petroleum Gas.

  • Before handling the cylinder, make sure the valve is properly closed.
  • Handle the cylinder gently. Inspect the cylinder for damage before each use, and after it is dropped, dented, or impacted.
  • Always protect the valve from damage.
  • Avoid skin contact with liquid propane as it may cause frostbite.
Installed Position and Storage Position
  • Wear the appropriate protective gloves while connecting or disconnecting a cylinder to equipment.
  • Exchange removable cylinders outdoors or in well-ventilated areas, away from sources of ignition.
  • Close the cylinder valve before disconnecting the cylinder from forklifts.
  • Make sure that only qualified persons repair cylinders and forklift fuel systems.
  • For repairs, use only components that agencies such as the CSA Group (Canadian Standards Association) have approved.

What steps should operators follow when changing fuel tanks?

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Procedure for changing propane (LPG) cylinders:

  • Park the forklift in a low-traffic and well-ventilated area. Put forklift controls
    into the neutral position. Lower the forks to the ground and apply the
    parking brake.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves such as leather or insulated neoprene.
  • With the forklift engine running, dismount the forklift and close the valve on
    the cylinder.
  • Run the engine until it is out of fuel, and it stops. This step ensures that the fuel supply hose is empty.
  • Turn the ignition key to the off position.
  • Disconnect the fuel supply hose from the cylinder.
  • Undo the latch or straps that secure the cylinder to the forklift.
  • Remove the empty cylinder using both hands (empty cylinders can be
  • Inspect the replacement cylinder for damage. Do not use damaged
    cylinders. Tag them for repair and store them safely.
  • Lift the replacement cylinder into position using a proper lifting technique. Adjust the cylinder until it is properly aligned with the positioning pin to ensure the pressure relief valve is orientated correctly.
  • Secure the cylinder to the forklift.
  • Connect the fuel supply hose to the cylinder. Do not use tools because the
    valve is designed to be tightened by hand.
  • Open the valve on the cylinder slowly and check for leaks. A one to two-second hissing sound is normal and any longer indicates a leak. If available, use a soap and water solution or a leak detector.
    • Smell(for a rotten egg smell)
    • Listen (for gas escaping or hissing)
    • Look (for frost or bubbles if using a solution)
  • If you detect a leak, close the valve and: 
    • Remove the hose, and check the valve and hose connections for dirt and debris. 
    • Reconnect the hose and check for leaks again. If the leak persists, try a fresh cylinder. 
    • Reconnect the hose and check for leaks again. If the leak persists, put the forklift out of service. 
    • Tag any defective cylinders, hoses, or components for repair by qualified persons. 
  • If no leaks are detected, slowly open the valve fully. 
  • Make sure the hose is not kinked, twisted, or unsafely sticking out from the forklift. 
  • Start the engine and resume operation.

What should an operator not do when changing a propane tank (cylinder)?

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  • Do not use damaged cylinders. Tag them for repair or disposal.
  • Do not operate forklifts that appear to have incomplete or improper repairs to the fuel system.
  • Do not use metal tools when changing a cylinder.
  • Do not use excessive force when opening or closing the valve.
  • Do not let the cylinder get too hot or be exposed to excessive heat.
  • Do not drag, drop, roll or slide the cylinder or allow it to bang against other objects.
  • Do not use matches or a flame to check for leaks. Use soap or a leak detector.
  • Do not mount more LPG cylinders on the forklift than the truck was designed to hold.
  • Do not smoke when handling the cylinder or in the storage area.

How should propane cylinders be stored?

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  • Store the cylinder in an upright position and in a well-ventilated area, away from ignition sources and excessive temperatures, where it can be secured and is protected from being struck.
  • Protect cylinders from tipping over or falling. Use a chain or adequate support system. Consider securing each cylinder separately to prevent other cylinders from falling.
  • Do not store cylinders or park the forklift close to heat sources, doorways, aisles, elevators, stairways, and exits.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2023-05-18