Organisations and businesses throughout the United Kingdom use compressed gases to serve a variety of purposes, including soldering, welding, heating and cooking, extinguishing fires, and in laboratories. Despite their versatility, cylinders containing compressed gases must be treated with extreme caution. The possible hazards arising from misuse of compressed gas cylinders include:
- Explosions due to the rapid release of gas from damaged containers
- Fires resulting from the escape of flammable gases
- Injuries due to falling gas cylinders
- Escaped gases such as carbon monoxide creating atmospheric toxicity
Certain regulations apply to the handling, carriage, and storage of compressed gas in the United Kingdom, in the form of ADR Regulations, TPV Regulations, CDGCPL2 Regulations, and PE Regulations. While abiding by these regulations is clearly imperative for all involved, it is also vital to understand the main steps for working safely with gas cylinders. This includes the areas of gas cylinder storage, handling, and transport to reduce the risk of hazards occurring.
Gas Cylinder Storage
Many possible hazards can arise as a result of incorrect gas cylinder storage. The key point to remember about gas cylinders is that they are unstable—any organization using compressed gas for whatever purpose must understand how to store gas cylinders appropriately to reduce the risk of accidents happening.
The following best practices provide general guidelines for storing gas cylinders:
- Always use approved gas cylinder storage cages. These cages ensure the safe, compliant storage of gas cylinders.
- Restrict entry to storage areas to only trained individuals. It’s easy for the untrained individual to misjudge the potential dangers of these containers and cause serious harm to themselves when entering storage areas.
- Ensure all gas cylinders are clearly labelled to display appropriate warnings about the contents of the cylinders and their hazards.
- When storing gas cylinders, always place them in a well-ventilated area, either indoors or outdoors.
- Segregate gas cylinders depending on the properties of the gas inside. For example, don’t store flammable cylinders alongside oxidant cylinders.
- When gas cylinders are not currently in use, they must be securely stored in an upright position, and you should segregate unused cylinders and empty ones.
- Don’t store gas cylinders near any heat sources which may compromise their structural integrity and increase the risk of hazards such as explosions.
- Never store liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders in close proximity to other types of gas cylinder. At a minimum, ensure three metres of space between LPG cylinders and other gas cylinders.
Handling Gas Cylinders
A huge area of concern with gas cylinder safety is how they are handled. Careless handling combined with unsecured storage can cause gas cylinders to tip over, with the escape of high pressure gas turning these containers into veritable projectiles.
Follow these tips when handling gas cylinders:
- Only ever use gas cylinders filled by a reputable gas supplier.
- Never attempt to fill up one gas cylinder by using another one.
- When filling a gas cylinder, always use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate.
- Always ensure storage areas have adequate lighting to assist people with manually handling gas cylinders and reduce the risk of accidents.
- Do not drop, throw, or otherwise mishandle gas cylinders. Cylinders should be carried close to the body and never above chest height.
Transporting Gas Cylinders
Ideally, organizations would hire a professional gas transport company for the carriage of gas cylinders, however, this is not always possible. Regardless of the chosen method, the following best practices for safe compressed gas cylinders are important:
- Always secure the gas cylinders in the chosen vehicle to ensure they do not move during transit.
- A 2 kg fire extinguisher must be accessible on every vehicle carrying gas cylinders.
- Close all valves on cylinders while they are in transit.
- Strive to ensure that all vehicles used for transporting compressed gas cylinders are open vehicles. If this is absolutely not possible, the chosen vehicle must be extremely well-ventilated.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of ensuring safe gas cylinder storage, handling, and transport. By following the guidelines and recommendations above, businesses and organizations can reduce the risk of possible hazards from misuse of these fragile yet powerful vessels. You can view our range of secure gas cylinder storage cages here.