Focus back on safeguards in LPG supply

The nature of their job makes them vulnerable and may result in their becoming super-spreaders.  

Protocols on safe supply of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders in the context of COVID-19, especially one advising the delivery staff to leave the refills at the doorstep of customers, are back in favour as the number of people getting infected with the virus spirals.

Though never withdrawn officially, the significance of implementing the set of guidelines issued last year is greater now with cooking gas consumption by households also on the rise in recent weeks, sources in oil industry said.

“We have instructed our delivery boys that unless absolutely needed they should not venture into kitchen,” says Telangana LPG Distributor’s Association General Secretary K. Jagan Mohan Reddy. For households with only elderly people or women who find it difficult to handle the cylinders, the delivery staff have been asked to take a call based on merit of the case.

Many customers, however, prefer taking delivery of cylinders at the doorstep instead of allowing such staff into the kitchen. Irrespective of where they are asked to leave the refill, the staff have to perform the mandatory pre-delivery checks, including the all-important leak detection test, he says.

While pre-delivery checks are not new, the Department of Civil Supplies had added certain standard protocols to be adhered to at the time of delivery in the wake of the pandemic last year. Sanitising the cylinder that is supplied as well as the empty refill the household returns, wearing masks and gloves and avoiding crowded places were key instructions given to LPG delivery staff.

Executive Director and State Head of Indian Oil Corporation for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh R. Sravan S. Rao says while fresh instructions have not been issued, the grim situation unfolding as the overall COVID cases rise may necessitate a communication to the LPG network going forward on adhering to the protocols. For now, the cylinders are being delivered home, he adds.

Some gated communities already have imposed restrictions on cylinder deliveries such as earmarking a place up to which the refills are allowed. For the national oil companies, a review of the situation becomes imperative in view of loss of lives of employees, distributors as well as delivery staff in Telangana. Mr. Reddy said at least six distributors and 12 delivery staff had died of COVID complications in the second wave of pandemic.

As the nature of their job makes them vulnerable and may result in their becoming super-spreaders too, LPG distributors as well as companies like IOC are keen on getting those forming part of the supply chain vaccinated. The earlier it is done the better is something he sought to emphasis as in the last 10 days, LPG bookings by households had increased by 10-15%, presumably on account of customer fears of another lockdown being imposed. The distributors, however, have been meeting the enhanced demand and ensuring that the wait time for households, to access a refill, is not more than 1.5 days. At the peak of the first wave last year, LPG consumption had also soared before moderating, he says, adding the demand is more from urban areas.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 12:14:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/focus-back-on-safeguards-in-lpg-supply/article34493187.ece

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