The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)has urged stakeholders in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) industry to embrace safety holistically in their everyday work, to prevent accidents from happening at Gas Filling Stations.
Mr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, EPA Executive Director who told the Ghana News Agency in an interview noted: “Players in the Gas industry must ensure that the marketplace, and more importantly the customer, is not compromised by unsafe practices, Ghana cannot afford any disaster.
“We all have personal and collective responsibilities to ensure a safe environment for LPG throughout the distribution chain; from the producers at the refineries, right through the distribution chain to the final application for the product”.
As part of a broader process to inject professionalism into the sector, Mr Kokofu said the EPA had instituted training of stakeholders to reduce accidents connected with gas usage, and also served as a process of licensing all LPG Pump Attendants.
The training forms part of the general requirements for the licensing regime, which would ensure that people who are not trained cannot operate as LPG Pump when the regulations comes into force.
At the end of the three-day training programme, LPG Attendants will go through “Environmental Safety and Best Practices Training (ESBPT)”.
The ESBPT syllabus is divided into phases, which involves theoretical classroom and practical field training, leading to the award of an initial certificate of participation, after which the attendants would be monitored for adherence to best practices.
Mr Kokofu said the Attendants would also go through another theoretical classroom and practical field training at the end of which they would be licensed to operate as a Certified Professional LPG Pump Attendants.
The EPA Executive Directed noted that the action to train operators conformed with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) guidelines which encouraged actions promoting safety practices, prevention and preparedness measures.
He said the UNEP supported the Guidelines for Good Safety Practices in the LPG Industry, “therefore the EPA is being proactive in taking the necessary measures to ensure that professionals manage the product”.
Mr Kokofu noted that a Guidelines for Good Safety Practice in the LPG Industry was developed by the World LPG Association (WLPGA) to provide global tool for ensuring standards in the industry.
Mr Samuel Otu Larbi, Executive Director, Solution Solve Limited who is the lead consultant for the training stressed the importance of a sound regulatory framework for the LPG industry.
He said there was the need for full understanding of the product, distribution chain and controls to be ever present and exercised at every point to ensure safe operations.
Mr Larbi emphasised that good safe practices when storing, handling and distributing bulk LPG and filling and handling cylinders were key to ensuring safety in the industry.
He said LPG referred to a group of hydrocarbon-based gases derived from crude oil refining or natural gas fractionation. Propane and butane, and mixtures of the two, were its key constituents.
He said LPG could be liquefied under moderate pressure or low temperature, which facilitated its transportation and distribution.
He stressed that although, as a fossil fuel, LPG released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during combustion. However it burnt more completely than other, notably solid, fuels and was thus more efficient and cleaner.
Mr Larbi noted that however that like all forms of energy LPG was potentially hazardous if mishandled or misused.
Mr William Kwaku Hayfron-Acquah, EPA Acting Director Field Operations also noted that “as a major player in charge of environmental protection the agency had identified education as a missing link, therefore we want to build the capacity of station attendants who play a critical interface in the whole operations of selling LPG to end-users.
He said EPA was collaborating with other technical partners such as the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana LPG Operators Association (GLiPGOA), Department of Factories Inspectorate, among others.
He called on the LPG Marketing Companies Association and other stakeholders to ensure their attendants participated in the training as well as dealers and owners to help protect their investments.