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Gas safety for food trucks

As the responsible owner of a food truck, the importance of gas safety cannot be overstated. Protecting your business, staff and customers from harm always has to be your top priority, no matter what other pressures you’re under. To help you with this, Mobilers has put together this guide to gas safety for food trucks. So, what are you waiting for? Get reading, and stay safe.

As well as knowing all about gas safety issues, arranging catering insurance in the UK is a key part of keeping everyone safe. And that’s where the team at Mobilers comes in. We’ve been arranging tailored catering cover for more than 20 years now and understand the pressures you’re under. Just search for catering insurance UK and let our knowledgeable team of insurance specialists find the cover that’s right for you.

Why gas safety is so important in food trucks

It’s easy to see why food trucks are so popular among those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Serving up foods from around the world to a hungry and adoring public – all from the comfort of your own bespoke food truck. What’s not to like?

However, with more and more people entering the food truck trade it’s vital you stay aware of the importance of gas safety. After all, gas safety is a common problem in the catering industry. Whether through gas work being carried out illegally or equipment not being fitted or maintained properly, serious consequences can occur.

You could be risking the lives of staff and customers through a potential fire, explosion or asphyxiation from poisonous gases. If you need any more warning of the potential dangers then watch this CCTV footage of the moment an Eastbourne burger van exploded into a fire ball because of a leaking gas cylinder! While no one was injured, parked cars and a neighbouring business were badly damaged by the blast. It’s accidents like this that catering insurance in the UK is so useful to guard against.

Failure to comply with gas safety laws is a serious offence. If something goes wrong you could face criminal charges. This could result in an unlimited fine and even time in prison if you haven’t met your legal obligations as a business owner.

Keeping on top of gas safety clearly makes sound business sense, too. After all, it would be difficult for any business to survive such a blow. Remember, even a minor gas leak could lead to a kitchen shut-down and a big impact on your ability to earn.

The potential for significant losses can be reduced by arranging catering insurance in the UK, understanding your legal obligations, and following gas safety tips in your food truck. It really is that simple.

Gas safety and the law

Gas is a very popular fuel among mobile caterers and is used in a range of cooking appliances.

If you use LPG in your mobile catering unit, you need an annual CP44 gas safety certificate. The inspection must be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer who is qualified to work on the type of mobile catering equipment you have. Search online or on the NCASS website for suitable engineers in your area.

Other useful guidance in this area, as listed on the NCASS website, includes:

  • Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1995 – These state that all catering equipment which use gas and have been manufactured since 1995 must be CE marked. This will specify what uses the equipment is suitable for. For example, whether for leisure or commercial purposes.
  • Gas Safety (installation and Use) Regulations 1998 – These state that all commercial catering equipment which use gas must have a flame failure device. This device is essential as it will cut the gas supply if the flame goes out.
  • Gas Safety in Catering and Hospitality 2013 – This Health & Safety Executive information sheet states that your catering staff need to be trained in how to safely use gas and how to carry out visual checks for faults on equipment before use. It also specifies there needs to be safe methods in place for cleaning the equipment.
  • Guidance for the installation of LPG and LPG-Fired Equipment in Tented Structures, Stalls and Gazebos 2012 – This states that you must not place gas cylinders within the structure. They must be kept a minimum of 1m from the wall of your structure in a tamper proof enclosure, with a warning notice displayed. This guidance does not apply to vehicle-mounted gas tanks.
  • Guidance for Commercial Catering Gas Safety 2021 – This guidance states that all commercial catering equipment using gas must be routinely checked and serviced by an appropriately registered Gas Safe engineer. You may be required to provide evidence of this, so it’s important to keep your paperwork up to date. Importantly, not every Gas Safe engineer will have the right qualification to work on every gas appliance, so you’ll need to check this. For a food truck, the engineer must be registered to work on the right type of commercial mobile catering appliances.
  • UKLPG Code of Practice 24 2017 – This updated advice from the Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) and Liquid Gas UK is designed to ensure gas safety at outdoor catered events and street food pitches across the UK. It really is a must-read as it gives comprehensive guidance on all aspects of gas use by mobile caterers. From the design and construction of gas systems and where to place them to issues such as transportation, storage, automatic changeover devices, ventilation and disposal of cylinders, it’s all here.

A lit gas hob in a catering van

Gas safety tips for your food truck

Read through our gas safety tips to keep your food truck, business, staff and customers safe from harm.

Mobile catering vehicles

  • Any food truck you’re thinking of investing in should come with written evidence that the installation complies with current gas safety legislation. This should include details of the installation and who completed the gas safety check.
  • Before purchasing any mobile catering vehicle, obtain a gas safety report completed by a registered gas engineer.
  • Obtain a copy of the latest gas safety certificate to ensure safe operation of gas appliances, pipework and flues. It must be carried out by a suitably qualified Gas Safe engineer, with the right qualifications to work on commercial mobile catering units.
  • If the current gas safety certificate has any advice or warning notices, find out what remedial work has been carried out.
  • All converted vehicles must comply with current gas safety legislation. Bear in mind that gas cylinders are heavy when full and could take the vehicle over its recommended Maximum Allowable Mass. This could compromise vehicle safety on the road.
  • If you rent your food truck to another person or business then you’re regarded as a landlord and must obtain an annual gas safety certificate from a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Installation, maintenance and repair

  • Gas equipment should only be installed, maintained and repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This is easy to check on the Gas Safe website or by calling them on 0800 4085500. Use the engineer’s personal ID number, business name or postcode to check. You can also check they are suitably qualified to work on mobile catering equipment. NCASS has lots more useful information on how to find the right gas engineer for your catering business.
  • All gas appliances, flues, pipework and other safety devices should be inspected regularly. Depending on the amount of use it’s usually recommended to do this twice a year. But whatever happens it must be done at least every 12 months.
  • Note down when gas equipment services are next due so they won’t slip your mind.
  • Always keep a copy of any certificates with your records.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to maintenance and inspection. Speak to your Gas Safe engineer if you are at all uncertain.

Cylinders

  • Gas cylinders or tanks should be located in a position which minimises the risk of damage in a road accident.
  • Gas cylinders can be located in a ventilated area outside the vehicle. Or within a separate fire-resistant compartment sealed off from the vehicle interior.
  • This compartment should be adequately ventilated at both high and low level. Drilled holes in the floor and door are not adequate.
  • During transit, gas cylinders should be turned off and well secured in an upright position.
  • Access to the gas cylinder compartment must only be from outside the vehicle. This allows easy access for changing cylinders and quick removal of cylinders in case of an emergency.
  • Ensure compartments are not blocked and a suitable warning notice is attached to the door. For example,‘Caution LPG Highly flammable’.
  • When parked, cylinders may be located outside but away from entrances and exits, ventilation grills or windows, passing vehicles, drains, flammable substances and sources of ignition.
  • Store cylinders away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
  • Never smoke near gas cylinders.
  • Shielding should be provided where necessary.

Hoses and connections

  • Fit an emergency isolation valve. If this is not easily accessible to staff then an emergency stop button must also be fitted. A notice should be displayed next to these to remind staff of what to do in an emergency.
  • Pressure regulators and automatic change over devices should be located as close as possible to the cylinder. Keep flexible connections as short as possible, but long enough to avoid excessive strain on the hose or fittings.
  • Change over devices should contain non-return valves to prevent the accidental discharge of gas when changing cylinders.
  • A flexible hose between the gas cylinder and regulator should not exceed 1m in length. If it needs to be longer then you must use copper piping.
  • Replace hoses every two years or when signs of wear, ageing, damage, weathering or cracks are identified.
  • Never use tools to turn cylinder valves on or off.
  • Avoid the use of worm drive hose clips. NCASS strongly advises against the use of these clips as they can cause damage to the hose and may not be tightened correctly by users. Instead NCASS recommends the use of suitable factory-fitted swaged or crimped connectors to secure each end of low-pressure hoses.
  • Consider investing in the NCASS QuickSafe LPG System. This is a gas distribution system that’s easy to connect yourself without breaking the law and compromising on safety.

Gas appliances

  • Appliances should be approved for use with gas, carry a CE mark and have a flame supervision device fitted.
  • Appliances should be fixed securely on a firm, heat insulating base.
  • Appliances should be positioned away from flammable materials, positioned so they don’t obstruct passageways or exits, and placed where they can’t be tampered with by unauthorised persons.

Ventilation

  • There should be suitable canopy hoods to ensure ventilation for all appliances and other sources of fumes and heat.
  • Your food truck must be sufficiently ventilated so cooking fumes and excess hot air are removed and there is no build-up of carbon monoxide.
  • The size of vents will depend on the number of appliances. Windows and doors are not to be included as part of your ventilation as they can be closed by staff.
  • Keep ovens and burners free from dirt and debris to maintain correct ignition and flame quality.
  • The ventilation system needs to be regularly inspected and cleaned.
  • New ventilation systems must be interlocked to the gas supply so the gas cannot be turned on unless the ventilation system is running. For more information on ventilation in catering kitchens, the HSE has produced a useful information sheet.
  • Provide carbon monoxide detectors and alarms appropriate for a commercial kitchen environment.

Staff training

  • All staff must be trained in the proper use of gas equipment and how to spot obvious faults with visual checks. For example, staff should know to check whether:
    • There is damaged pipework or connections.
    • There are any leaks on the connections.
    • There’s a smell of gas.
    • The flame supervision devices are in working order.
    • The flame quality is good.
    • The equipment is securely fastened to the vehicle.
    • The castors on mobile equipment lock in place
  • All staff must know how to spot danger signs with gas appliances such as:
    • Yellow or orange flames rather than blue flames.
    • Soot or staining near or on appliances.
    • Pilot lights that keep going out.
    • Increased condensation inside windows.
  • Make sure every staff member knows what to do in an emergency. If there’s a fire, they should:
    • Raise the alarm immediately.
    • Call the emergency services and advise them of the presence of gas.
    • Shut all valves on cylinders.
  • All staff must know how to spot the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning as listed by the NHS. Including:
    • Nausea and vomiting.
    • Chest and stomach pains.
    • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
    • Confusion and erratic behaviour.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for common illnesses like flu. But unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning does not cause a rise in body temperature.

If not dealt with promptly, carbon monoxide poisoning can and does lead to seizures, unconsciousness and death. If anyone has these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately and inform the emergency services that carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected.

A chef cooking salmon on a gas hob

Gas safety check lists for food trucks

An important part of gas safety is to use an easy-to-follow checklist at the start and end of every working day. Here’s one to get you started. 

At the start of the day:

  • Are gas cylinders stored in a separate, fire-resistant compartment with adequate ventilation?
  • During travel, are gas cylinders secured in an upright position?
  • During trading, are gas cylinders stored upright in a level, ventilated area away from entrances and exits?
  • Are cylinders kept away from any heat source, flammable materials, rubbish and other debris, and at least 2m away from drains?
  • Are the public prevented from accessing the cylinders?
  • Are flexible hoses and clips in good condition and to the right standard?
  • Have the hose connections been checked with gas leak detection spray?
  • Are emergency procedures in place to deal with all eventualities?
  • Is a copy of the emergency procedures on site?
  • Could emergency services gain access to the cylinders if they need to?
  • Are appropriate warning signs displayed?

At the end of the day:

  • Have you isolated the gas to all appliances?
  • Have you switched off the gas supply at the cylinders?
  • Are gas cylinders stored safely so they cannot be tampered with?
  • Have all empty cylinders been removed and stored safely?
  • Have you removed all the cardboard and rubbish from the food truck?

Some final thoughts on gas safety

Any responsible food truck owner needs to ensure their gas appliances are checked regularly by a competent and qualified gas engineer and that they follow manufacturer’s instructions on effective cleaning, maintenance and repair.

You also need to keep any evidence of gas safety examination records and documentation so that the appropriate authorities can see the correct ongoing maintenance has been performed. If you want to stay in business then this is vital as an Environmental Health Officer performing an inspection will want to see it.

If you don’t have the correct documentation or if there are any safety concerns the council officer may serve a formal notice stating what actions must be taken to comply with the law. Depending on what is required, this could severely impact your mobile catering business.

If there's any gas safety information you need but you can't find it here, don't hesitate to give the NCASS Support Team a call on 0121 603 2524. Many mobile caterers join NCASS to access all the helpful advice and offers tailored specifically for mobile caterers.

In a similar way, if you arrange catering insurance in the UK through Mobilers you’ll get access to exclusive products and schemes not available elsewhere.

Find catering insurance in the UK from Mobilers

Being well informed and well prepared is essential for gas safety, so make sure you've chosen a suitable catering insurance policy for your requirements. It’s always best to have specialist catering insurance UK cover in place to protect your business.

When it comes to protecting food trucks and equipment, the team at Mobilers are hard to beat. We can arrange cover for a whole range of vehicles, and can tailor policies to your business needs.

Call our helpful team today and get a quote for catering insurance in the UK.

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