Compressed gas bottles are a common sight in many workplaces. In industry and the medical environments, their portability is useful and convenient, and in many cases essential. All gas bottles are designed and manufactured to an approved standard. They are constructed to contain specific gases and to withstand normal, everyday use. Accordingly, each bottle is thoroughly inspected before release for use.
Thereafter, gas bottles are periodically examined to ensure their continued safety. In addition, gas bottles should always be checked over if they have sustained mechanical damage, are dented, or suffer a reduction in wall thickness, as this can affect the integrity of the bottle
Handled and stored incorrectly, gas bottles pose serious health and safety issues. Many gases are toxic, flammable, and combustible. Each year fire, injury, and even death occurs due to accidents in both the workplace and home – incidents that cause harm and distress, as well as being costly to employers and homeowners alike.
To aid gas bottle safety, we’ve a listed below 5 key areas that need to be understood and addressed to ensure safe bottled gas handling and storage.
Only trained personnel and people who fully understand the importance of handling and storing gas bottles safely and correctly should be permitted to enter a gas storage area. Your gas bottle storage compound/area should ideally be located well away from busy areas of high traffic and well away from any customer contact areas.
Handle Cylinders Carefully
First, gas bottles, whether full or empty can be heavy depending on their size and capacity, and even when unfilled, if discharged, they can cause serious personal injury. Suitable personal protective equipment should be used at all times, particularly items such as protective boots and gloves. Employers should ensure all staff is trained in manual handling techniques, with records maintained for reference purposes.
Gas bottles, whatever they contain, should always be handled with care and never dropped, thrown, or mishandled in any way. Larger gas bottles should only be moved using a suitable trolley or hoist. Manual Handling accidents in the workplace account for a large proportion of back injury cases. In many cases lost working time and the resultant associated costs could have been prevented by risk assessment, employee training, and adequate signage.
Gas Bottle Storage
Gas bottles should be stored in a cool, dry, well ventilated area at all times. Ventilation is essential to ensure the accidental, unexpected release of toxic or flammable gases are not trapped and accumulate which can lead to hazardous consequences. Poor ventilation is perhaps the most common cause of gas cylinder accidents. Whenever possible, gas bottles should be securely stored outdoors away from building entry/exit points in a secure, dedicated gas bottle storage area, compound, or cage. Do not store gas bottles near corrosive, toxic or oxidant materials.
Safe Positioning of Gas Bottles
All gas bottles, whether used or unused, should be stored in the upright position and fastened safely, preferably with a chain or other secure attachment. Gas bottles should be kept shaded from extreme sunlight and away from direct heat sources. Never site gas bottles on uneven ground or floors as they can easily fall over, injuring or combusting. Also, don’t store gas bottles where they are likely to come into contact with water.
Segregate Gas bottles
For efficiency as well as safety reasons, segregate empty and full gas bottles within your gas storage area. This is easily done as the empty gas bottles are considerably lighter than those full. For confirmation and information purposes many reinforce the message by affixing a label.