From restaurants to industrial manufacturing facilities, compressed gas cylinders are used across a wide range of industries. While these gasses may be made of different properties and serve different purposes, the risks when handling them are the same. Not taking the proper precautions when handling or storing compressed gas cylinders can lead to devastating accidents.
There are thousands of industrial accidents recorded in the UK each year which directly involve compressed gas cylinders. Despite the strict regulations in place regarding the use handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders in the workplace, negligence is still prevalent in this area. Poor handling, incorrect filling procedures, incorrect installation, training and supervision of staff are all key contributing factors. However, the top two most frequent causes of accidents involving gas cylinders are inadequate storage and poorly ventilated gas cylinder storage.
To help UK businesses ensure safe storage of compressed gas cylinders and meet regulatory compliance, we have developed the following clear, concise safety checklist.
Is the storage area well ventilated and covered?
Ventilation is incredibly important when storing gas cylinders. If gases from storage cylinders were to leak into the surrounding environment, it can present a serious health and safety hazard. Therefore, your gas cylinder storage units needs to be appropriately ventilated to prevent the accumulation of any leaked gases. Your gas cylinder store should also be covered and ideally located externally on a level, well-drained surface.
Is the gas cylinder positioned upright and secured?
Gas cylinders must be stored vertically and be secured in stands or with chains, straps or other suitable restraints and capped when not in use. This is necessary to prevent them toppling over and getting damaged, leading to potentially harmful gas leaks. It is especially important to ensure you have protected the valves from any damage. If the valve breaks the gas cylinder will shoot around your facility like a torpedo, putting the safety of your employees and equipment at serious risk.
Is appropriate signage in use?
Compressed gas cylinders are required by law to carry and display hazard warning signs and COSHH warning symbols to minimise the risk of injury. Additionally, it is important to ensure you can clearly identify which cylinders are full and which cylinders are empty. Empty cylinders should be marked as such as full and empty cylinders require a different level of care and handling.
Are the full and empty cylinders segregated?
Full and empty compressed gas cylinders should be stored separately within a gas cylinder cage or gas cylinder store to avoid confusion. Empty cylinders which have held the same contents should be grouped together. You should plan your use of the gas cylinders so that they are used in the order they are received from your supplier.
Have you segregated cylinders by gas type?
Cylinders should be segregated by the properties of the gas e.g. flammable, oxidant etc. Oxygen cylinders must not be stored within 20 feet of cylinders containing flammable gases or near any other highly combustible materials if a fire wall is not in place. LPG cylinders should not be stored within 3 metres of other gas cylinders if a fire wall is not in place.
Are there any other products stored in the gas cylinder store?
Never store other products in a gas cylinder store, especially any flammable materials such as fuel, oil, paint or corrosive liquids. Doing so can result in fires, explosions and other health and safety hazards. The gas cylinder storage area should be exclusively reserved for storing gas cylinders only.
Ensure safe gas cylinder storage in the workplace
No matter what industry you are working in, if you keep compressed gas cylinders on site is vital to ensure you have taken all of the proper safety precautions. Ask yourself the questions outlined above to ensure you have implemented the appropriate safety measures when storing gas cylinders. For more advice or assistance regarding gas cylinder storage, contact the expert team at Safety Storage Systems U.K. today. If you are need further tips on safe storage of hazardous chemicals at your facility, check out some of our other articles.