Safe handling of compressed gas cylinders is an important issue in the laboratory, welding workshop, and warehouse. In reverse, improper handling of compressed gas cylinders will cause big safety problems and may cause an accident to happen.
Now, look at the following facts:
From the year 2014 to 2017, OSHA reports that there are 7 fatalities associated with gas cylinder operations. The latest accident happened when an employee died during a welding operation. This number covers only in the US. The world numbers will absolutely be bigger than that.
When you talk about the safe handling of compressed gas cylinders, basically it relates to several aspects; storage, transport, and operation.
The following safety tips are devoted to having better gas cylinders in its all cycles.
But, before you dive into the safe handling tips, it had better for you to recognize the compressed gas cylinder hazards.
What Are Compressed Gas Cylinder Hazards?
Compressed gases, let’s say some examples; nitrogen, oxygen, helium, ethylene, propane, air, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen, are used for a variety of purposes.
However, if not handled properly, those gases can present various and serious hazards.
Depending on their chemical properties, pressure level, and size of the gas cylinders, compressed gas cylinder hazards can be categorized into:
- chemical hazards
- physical hazards
Chemical hazards can be explosive, toxic, flammable, inert, corrosive, and oxidizing, which come from the gases.
Meanwhile, the high-pressure gas inside the cylinder and the cylinder itself create physical hazards.
When the gas cylinder falls over, then the valve and or the shell breaks, a high-pressure gas released quickly. At the same time, sharp metal pieces can explode.
Falling cylinders can also cause injury; sprains, strains, bruises, or broken bones.
Practical Tips on Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders
I want you to remind this one important thing before we dive into the tips:
Always treat compressed gas cylinders as potential explosives at all the time. By this, you will handle them carefully.
Now, let’s start seeing the safety tips for the safe handling of compressed gas cylinders.
- For safe storage of gas cylinders in workplaces, store compressed gas cylinder securely and properly at all the time, by chaining.
- Have a chain inspection and preventive maintenance schedule.
- Always store full cylinders upright.
- Do not place flammable gases with oxygen or other oxidizing gases in the same area.
- Provide a cool, well ventilated, and fire-resistant storage room for the cylinders.
- Make sure the storage area is free from forklift and vehicle hit, as well as falling objects.
- Never change the color of cylinder gas. It has a meaning.
- Prohibit altering gas cylinder marking.
- Maintain the identity of each gas cylinder attached to it.
- Prohibit smoking in the storage area.
- Mark empty cylinder with a clear tag.
- Make a separate area for empty cylinders and the full ones.
- If it is falling, never try to catch it. It will cause injury.
- Protect the cylinder from a corrosive environment and materials.
- Apply a good inventory system like FIFO (first-in-first-out) to avoid long period storage.
- Do not provide overstock.
- Provide enough space in the storage area for cylinder handling.
- Allow only authorized personnel to access the storage area.
- Avoid gas cylinders from the wet floor.
- Use special hand truck (trolley) for transporting compressed gas cylinders from the storage room to the user area or vice versa.
- Avoid manual handling for the cylinder.
- Always secure the cylinder during transportation.
- Never use a forklift for transporting the compressed gas cylinder.
- Never drag the cylinder even it is for a short distance.
- Do not ever think to lift up a cylinder with magnet or sling at its cap. But, use a cage to lift it.
- Always close the valve and cap, when you return the cylinder to the supplier.
- Make sure that you have already understood the properties, hazards, and uses of the gas before handling any compressed gas cylinder. Read the MSDS thoroughly.
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment required for the task.
- Employees who will handle the cylinder must receive adequate training.
- If a compressed gas cylinder is damaged, it must be immediately reported and emptied securely, and not used again.
- Use only recommended (approved) regulator for a certain gas.
- Always close the valve and tighten the cap if the cylinder is not in use.
- Regular inspection is necessary for damaged and support bracket, and leakage.
- Report immediately any leak found from it.
- Avoid mechanical shock to the cylinder that may cause damage to the valve.
- Do not heat, arc, and drop the gas cylinder.
- Always use a carrier holder for the operating cylinder.
- Use flammable, toxic, and reactive gas cylinders only in a fume hood.
- Set up an emergency procedure and equipment related to the compressed gas cylinder operation.
- Never use the gas cylinder for other uses such as for moving material or use as a roller.
- Never refill the cylinder. A qualified manufacturer only can do this.
- Never try to mix gases in a cylinder.
- Never discharge any gas cylinder content in a closed area or directly to an employee.
- If you connect the gas cylinder with piping, always install a safety-relief device and check valve.
- Always open the valve slowly to start gas supply and stand at the front of the pressure gauge.
- Put a tag on a cylinder if the valve is hard to open. Do not try to open it with a wrench.
- Always do regular leak test on tubing or piping that connect the cylinder with the user.