Wednesday 10th May 2017
Air quality at work is a heavily regulated area covered by legislation designed to protect workers from a wide range of potential hazards from asbestos through to fungus spores.
In terms of exposure to diesel exhaust emissions (DEEs) in the workplace, tighter standards have been introduced in the UK and around the world, especially since the International Agency for Research into Cancer classified DEEs as a Group 1 carcinogen.
The major source of workplace exposure to DEEs is from vehicles that use diesel which include forklift trucks (FLTs). As a result, UKLPG members have reported a growth in the LPG-powered FLT market as businesses look to minimise indoor air pollution whilst maintaining reliability and performance.
Diesel fumes are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations which require employers to undertake risk assessments and minimise exposure.
Where FLTs are used indoors, typically in warehouses and stores, managers are required to choose a fuel which is not harmful to employees.
This drive to clean up air quality in warehouses has prompted a surge in interest in LPG FLT fleets. LPG is a natural alternative to diesel and with 98% fewer air particles as well as an 80% reduction in NOx emissions, it is the obvious solution to reduce indoor air pollution.
On top of being able to support a better working environment, there are the cost advantages to using LPG over diesel with SME operators in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire reporting annual savings of up to £15,000 per year on their fuel bills. On average the switch from diesel to LPG can deliver cost savings in excess of 10%.
LPG tanks can be mounted permanently on FLTs which re-fuel from an on-site bulk storage tank, minimising downtime. This reduces manual handling as LPG can be delivered directly by bulk tanker into on-site storage tanks.
This method of refuelling has proved popular for a company handling in excess of 60,000 pallets a week at a state-of-the-art, 367,500 square foot hub based in the West Midlands. Using LPG has had a positive impact on the efficient running of the facility thanks to the installation of a three-tank fuel dispensing port which was built, managed and maintained by the LPG supplier - where trucks can easily and quickly refuel. Alternatively, FLT's can be fitted with lightweight LPG cylinders than can be easy to switch, again keeping downtime of the fleet to a minimum.
Interest in LPG is not just from diesel FLT fleet users. Members are also being approached by people wanting to switch from electric fleets to LPG.
A freight services company based in Suffolk struggled with its electric forklift truck fleet, and found LPG FLTs offered the ideal solution. The FLT fleet was vital to the business, being used to load up to 20 containers and up to 25 articulated lorries each day, along with general lifting requirements around the warehouse. Carrying 450-500 tonnes daily over a seven-hour operating period, the company found that LPG FLTs coped better with the heavy lifting required, plus the speed of refuelling delivered significant time savings as electric FLTs can take up to 8 hours to charge.
Efficient warehouse operations are fundamental to the fast-moving supply chains that service both consumer and business needs. Having a safe, efficient forklift truck fleet in place supports business growth and competitiveness, whilst helping to achieve a cleaner working environment for employees, and we anticipate continued growth for LPG in this sector for years to come.
Read our case studies exploring the benefits of LPG fuelling the forklift sector in more detail.
By Rob Shuttleworth, UKLPG Chief Executive
The trade association for the LPG and bioLPG industry in the UK