Propane Leak Causes Workplace Explosion
Two daycare workers suffered serious burns when propane gas that
had accumulated in the air ignited. They had noticed a propane
smell and a lack of hot water from the sink. When they reset a hot
water heater breaker in the basement, it caused the flammable gas
The investigation revealed that there was approximately five
centimetres of water on the basement floor. Because the base of the
water heater was submerged in water, a safety control valve had
corroded, causing a propane build-up in the basement.
Recommended Preventive Action
- Propane leaks smell like rotten eggs. Educate workers so they can
recognize the smell and know how to respond.
- If you smell propane, if possible, shut the source of the leak; evacuate
the premises immediately. Follow up with the fire department and
- Do not allow gas appliances to sit in water. Have a certified technician
service the system if you suspect water damage.
- Avoid touching electrical switches or appliances when a leak is
- Inform workers of the dangers of resetting a breaker inside a control
panel. Only allow qualified persons to reset a breaker if live parts are
- Install a propane detector according to the manufacturer’s instruction.
- Any modification or addition to existing gas installations must be done
by a certified technician.