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Savvy safety tips for street food vendors
The popularity of street food has helped fuel rapid growth in the outdoor catering sector. According to Nationwide Caterers' Association (NCASS), there are currently just under 10,000 outdoor catering operators in the UK, running 13,000 outlets, consuming up to 700,000 cylinders of LPG a year, with rapid growth in street catering attributed to seasonal markets, farmers' markets and festivals.
LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, is the perfect choice of fuel for outside caterers, giving the benefits of gas wherever it is needed. The controllable gas flame ensures that food is cooked to perfection and that the chef is always in control. Plus its portability means it can be used anywhere from a festival field to a beer garden. And the great news is, cylinders are easily available from stockists, DIY stores and garage forecourts, right across the country.
As a clean and green fuel, LPG emissions are significantly less than a diesel generator, and noise levels are negligible too, making it not only good news for the environment but for workers too.
As the £1.3bn sector looks forward to its peak summer season with festivals and outdoor events catering to all tastes, the trade association for the LPG industry, UKLPG, has teamed up with NCASS to urge operators to keep safety front of mind when storing, transporting, handling and using LPG cylinders.
Safety is focused on three key areas: cylinders, regulators and hoses.
- A full cylinder is heavy so care needs to be taken when lifting - use a trolley where possible
- Always transport and store cylinders with the valve at the top
- When not in use, store cylinders outside in a well-ventilated location
- If cylinders are kept in an area where people walk by, they should be restrained to stop them falling over and not blocking escape routes
- Never use propane cylinders indoors (butane cylinders can only be used indoors if the LPG appliance is specifically designed for use indoors, such as a cabinet heater)
- Empty cylinders should be returned to the nearest stockist - information is available here
- Regulators are necessary to reduce the pressure of LPG in the cylinder to the much lower pressure used by the appliance
- Regulators come in two variations; screwed connectors and quick connect - the correct type of regulator must be used
- To tighten screwed connectors, remember that most are left-handed and tighten in the opposite direction to a normal screw
- Never overtighten or force fit a regulator or its mechanism
- Always protect regulators from the rain
- Regulators which are not fitted directly to the cylinder outlet, and any changeover valves, should be secured at a position higher than the cylinder outlet valve
- If regulators are more than 10 years old or show signs of wear or damage, replace them
- Check that regulators are clearly marked with either BS3016, BS EN16129 or BS EN12864 to ensure quality and safety standards have been met. For some commercial equipment or installations, regulators marked with BS EN13875 or BS EN13876 may be required
- To ensure quality and safety standards have been met, check that hoses are clearly marked BS3212 or BSEN1763, or stainless steel convoluted hoses are marked EN10380
- If the outlet pressure of the regulator exceeds 50 mbar, hoses should also be clearly marked as ‘High Pressure LPG'
- Hose lengths should be as short as possible but long enough that they are not pulled tight
- They must be secured with proper hose clips
- Keep hoses clear of hot surfaces and replace any hose which is more than 10 years old or which shows signs of wear, cracking or damage
- Never connect a natural gas appliance to an LPG supply, or try to improvise or modify your appliance
- Always ensure there is an adequate supply of fresh air where the appliance is located to reduce the build-up of carbon monoxide fumes
- Always follow the instructions issued by the supplier or manufacturer
- With safety front of mind, everyone can enjoy the great atmosphere and food on offer at street food fairs, festivals and fetes
UKLPG publishes detailed guidance on cylinders and hoses - information sheets are free to download by visiting the Publications section of our website. For more information or to find your nearest cylinder stockist, click here.
NCASS also run training courses on LPG safety for caterers and more information is available on their website.
By Rob Shuttleworth, Chief Executive, UKLPG