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August 01, 2017 Tuesday 12:22:49 PM IST

Be on the Safe Side

Best Practices

Accident statistics around the world says that 88% of all accidents taking place in this world are due to human error or negligence. Complacent attitude of the people In general also causes accidents. We celebrate safety day on March 4th every year in India , which is the formation day of National Safety



The Council conducts safety training programmes mainly for industries. But accidents can occur everywhere: at homes , schools, on roads, etc. The common man is seldom aware of the dangers around him and commits errors due to lack of safety awareness. Some examples will ease comprehension.


LPG, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is used by us at home for cooking.  We all know that the flame is blue in colour and no smoke comes from the flame. Therefore LPG is an environment-friendly fuel. We are burning the gas coming out from the cylinder through a regulator connected on top of the cylinder. But only 15% of the cylinder volume contains gas and the remaining is liquid.


The cylinder inside is under pressure. Because of this pressure only the gas remains as liquid in the cylinder. The purpose of the regulator is to reduce the gas pressure to ambient pressure in the tube and the burner. The cylinder shall always be kept vertical to ensure that liquid shall not pass through the regulator. If it happens and liquid comes out through the regulator it will expand to 273 times the liquid volume as gas and that will cause a huge fire in the kitchen. Another property of the LPG is that the pressure inside the cylinder will vary according to the temperature outside the cylinder. This means that variation in ambient temperature will cause increase or decrease of cylinder pressure inside.


Accordingly in summer at Delhi ambient temperature will be at 400c and cylinder pressure will be 10kg/cm2, whereas in Kerala for corresponding summer temperature of 360c cylinder pressure will be 8kg/cm2 only. The density of LP gas is 1.8 times higher than ambient air density. If accident leakage occurs LPG will settle down and ventilation on roof top will not be helpful. If the concentration of LPG in air is less than 1.9% or more than 9.5%, it will not burn. LPG produced in the refineries has no smell. LPG supplied to us for domestic use and for hotels will have smell. The smell is a safety measure and is due to a chemical, Ethyl Mercaptan, added to domestic supply.


Natural gas like LPG is used extensively as a fuel for domestic and industrial use. When vegetables decay, a gas, namely methane, is produced. Methane is natural gas. In villages there are wells and we

take water from the well for drinking purpose. Near these wells there can be trees and the leaves falling into the well from the trees cause natural gas generation. This gas being denser than air will displace air

from the well. There are several cases of death of people who entered these wells and paper news comes as the death was due to poisonous gas in the well.


In fact, the death is not due to poisonous gas. But the well you have entered does not have sufficient oxygen. Air contains 21% oxygen. Since the well lacks oxygen rich air, human beings cannot sustain life. The death due to lack of oxygen is called asphyxiation. Care must be taken to ensure presence of adequate oxygen when you enter enclosed spaces by first inserting a burning candle, an easy way to check presence of  oxygen rich air. We are an industrialised nation. Industries in general and chemical industries in particular produce objects useful to us. At the same time these chemicals in whatever form enter our body, and cause health hazards. Chemicals in gas, liquid or  solid form can enter our body, the easiest being gas. We cannot live without breathing and irrespective of the surroundings you live in and whether the air is clean or polluted, it goes into our body through our nose. Chemicals can go into the body through mouth and also through the skin. Since 95% of the chemicals will dissolve in water the best protection against chemical harm is to use a wet towel and cover your mouth and nose.


If the people around the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal were aware of this remedy Bhopal gas tragedy could have been avoided .Needless to say that union carbide management, government of Madhya Pradesh and the government of India are equally responsible for the worst ever disaster in the world.


To prevent chemical entry through skin, use rubber gloves on your hands. Wash with clean cold water to remove chemicals from the eyes. Substances like dust, especially carbon, coal, asbestos, benzene, etc. can cause lung and skin cancer. Excessive use of mobile phones can cause brain cancer. Never keep mobile phone under your pillow while sleeping. Also avoid keeping it in the chest pocket.


To reach small height we use a ladder. Ensure that the ladder is rigid. Keep the ladder bottom one fourth vertical height to reach. This is called 4:1 rule. Don't use slippers while climbing the ladder. You may use a canvas shoe instead.