The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has released a new safety guide, “Propane Safety for Commercial Mowers” ahead of key training months. Businesses that have commercial mowers are encouraged to review key safety measures with all operators.
“The winter months are a great time to refresh crews on how to safely operate and handle a propane commercial mower,” comments Mike Newland, PERC’s director of agriculture business development. “Slower winter months are also an ideal time to evaluate your fleet and business goals and make equipment purchases. Propane mowers are a proven clean energy option that boosts bottom lines without sacrificing performance.”
Propane is consistently less expensive at the pump, helping business submit more competitive bids with potential customers. According to PERC, due to the ease of switching out empty fuel cylinders, propane-powered landscaping equipment can operate more continuously than gasoline-fueled or electric-powered landscape equipment, which require more time to refuel/recharge.
PERC’s full safety guide is downloadable at Propane.com/mowersafety. Just a few, brief highlights (which don’t represent the comprehensive guide and should not be read alone) include:
- Fuel supply. There are two ways to supply fuel for commercial mowing: cylinder exchange and on-site fueling. Cylinder exchange consists of the fuel supplier’s inspecting and filling the cylinders and delivering them to your location. Equipment operators then disconnect the empty cylinder, connect the new full cylinder, check for leaks, and get back to work. If you prefer to fill your own cylinders, on-site refilling options require more work and more training. Cylinders transported over the road are subject to DOT requirements and must be filled by weight.
- Cylinder Types. Commercial mowers use one of two types of cylinders: one that provides vapor and one that provides liquid. It is vital to know which cylinder applies to your mower. While the connection for each of these cylinders may look the same, they are very different.
- Storing cylinders. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code has specific requirements on where, how, and how much propane can be stored in cylinders within and outside buildings. For instance, cylinders stored horizontally in cages must have the locating pin hole facing down so that the relief valve points up at the 12 o’clock position; in this way, the relief valve always communicates with the vapor space of the cylinder.
- Changing cylinders. Make sure the replacement tank valve is turned off when installing. If the hose coupler is screwed on with an open tank valve, it could spray propane. In addition, make sure the O-ring or gasket from the empty tank did not pull out. This could jam the check valve and prevent the mower from starting. Find six more steps for changing cylinders in the full guide.
- Training requirements. The PERC program “Dispensing Propane Safely” can provide the training for dispensing operations.
“When a business uses propane for their fleet, a dedicated propane supplier can help with any training or compliance needs,” said Newland. “That level of tailored service isn’t found at a pump or a utility provider.”
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