Safe Handling of Gas Cylinders


Working with Gas Cylinders

Gas bottles are commonly used in daily operations in many industries. Handling and storing these cylinders may seem like a mundane task, but if done carelessly, without safety in mind, gas cylinders can leak or explode, causing serious property damage and/or injury.

There are a number of regulations that apply to the safe storage and handling of pressurised gas cylinders. These include requirements for the quality of pressurized gas containers and their testing, rules for risk assessment and protective measures for gases, their storage and transport.

All of these regulations form the framework for the safe handling of gases in the commercial environment. 

In our guide we answer some of the most important questions to ensure safe working with gas cylinders and offer best practice tips for carrying out your risk assessment and for safely storing and transporting your gas cylinders.  

What are the rules for activities with gases?

What are the dangers of using gases?

Hazards

Handling gases carries many dangers - but with the right knowledge, risks can be effectively minimized. People who work with gases in everyday operations should therefore be made aware of the different sources of danger.

Gases are extremely versatile substances with different properties. While flammable gases pose the risk of explosion, oxidizing gases are not themselves flammable, but promote the combustion of other substances. In addition, there are harmful, hazardous, toxic and corrosive gases, which pose health risks for employees. In addition, gases (all but oxygen themselves) reduce the oxygen content in confined spaces and can endanger persons present by lack of oxygen.

It is important to always assess the hazards of gases on an individual basis. In the following, we will give you an explanation of the approach to a risk assessment of gases.


Risk Assessment

All gas cylinders contain gases under pressure that may present a risk of explosion if not safely handled and stored. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) requires employers to carry out a site specific risk assessment for each gas cylinder store.

The risk assessment must be carried out by a qualified person who has sufficient knowledge of the hazardous properties of the substances being used and is familiar with the work processes involved in order to correctly assess the working conditions and evaluate the protective measures required.

The first step is to identify the hazardous properties of the gases used in your facility. The safety data sheet will provide you with all the necessary information as it will highlight all dangerous properties of the stored substance.

The following must also be considered during the risk assessment: 

  • Explosion limits (OEG / LEL can be shifted at elevated temperature / pressure)

  • Temperature (can lead to pressure increase in the compressed gas tank)

  • Chemical properties (eg, instability)

  • Self-igniting (increased risk of fire / explosion)

  • Corrosion (eg, sulfur dioxide, can attack containers)

  • Toxic gases (eg, chlorine)

  • Suffocation

  • Gases heavier than "air" (can collect near the ground)

  • Polymerization

It should be noted that the hazards associated with the handling of gases are so varied that only a few of the effects can be stated here. A detailed analysis of the hazards of the gas must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Once the risks have been analyzed, the handling must then be considered. This includes internal transport and processing and handling by employees. The following situations describe specific hazards as examples:

  • Unintentional release (eg. leaky connections to valves)

  • Mixing gases (eg. when welding with acetylene / oxygen)

  • External effect on the compressed gas container

  • Improper maintenance (eg. pressure regulator on the valve is defective)

  • Deviation from the prescribed purpose

Important: It is not possible to create a "standard risk assessment" for all gases. Each gas must be considered individually and evaluated according to the hazards arising from it. A cause analysis can provide further support here. In addition, when assessing the risk of gases, the technicians, users or operators should be included in the report.


Labeling of Gas Cylinders

Whether as a basis for the risk assessment or immediately before use, it is essential for the user to know exactly what is in a gas bottle.

As required by law, each individual gas cylinder has to have a label which identifies its contents and provides basic safety information on the hazard(s) associated with the product. The labeling of gas cylinders has been regulated by EN 1089 since 1997. Amongst other things, this specifies a uniform colouring (EN 1089-3), which serves as additional information about the properties of the gases contained. 

It is the responsibility of the person filling the gas cylinder to affix a label. 

 

 

Identification

Attention: The color-coding according to EN 1089-3 refers only to the bottle shoulder, not to the coat color. The standard does not apply to bundles and trailer bottles and to extinguishers and gas cylinders for LPG. During the transition period until the end of 2006, a large "N" printed on the bottles (= New, New, Nouveau) to avoid confusion with old bottles.

The bottle color does not replace the dangerous goods sticker! This is the only mandatory labeling of the bottle contents.  


Storing Gas Cylinders

In many companies, gas cylinders are stocked up to ensure a continuous supply. If compressed gas cylinders are kept in stock, this is considered storage.

If you have filled gas bottles ...

... for early connection to the sampling facility (as far as this is necessary for the progress of the work)

... at workplaces for manual use

... on loading ramps or areas for early transport

... in sales rooms for the presentation of the product range

Keep them in the required number and size. The quantity of the hazardous substances must always be kept at a reasonable minimum for the continuation of daily work.

Storage requirements

Wherever you are storing pressurised gas cylinders, specific safety regulations must be observed. Here are some of the most important requirements:

Gas cylinders should be protected from excessive heat
Gas cylinders should be protected from excessive heat
Gas cylinders must not be exposed to fire
Gas cylinders must not be exposed to fire
Gas cylinders must be protected against corrosion
Gas cylinders must be protected against corrosion
 Manual damage must be prevented
Manual damage must be prevented
Unauthorized persons are forbidden to enter
Unauthorized persons are forbidden to enter

According to the British Compressed gases Association Code of Practice 44 - The Storage of Gas Cylinders, the following points such be observed:

  • Storage areas should be located in an external area where there is good natural ventilation. Adjacent buildings may adversely affect natural ventilation and their effect should be taken into account during the risk assessment.
  • The store should not be located in low lying areas; where gases may accumulate.
  • Storage within a building is not recommended. Where storage indoors cannot be avoided, fire rated gas cylinder containers should be used.
  • The location of the store should take account of the minimum recommended separation distances.
  • Cylinder stores should be located away from site designated emergency exits and escape routes.
  • Gas cylinder storage areas should be segregated from other stores.
  • Storage locations should be sited at ground level.
  • The location should be chosen so that it is not directly beneath overhead power or other cables and where it will allow access for vehicles and other plant without the risk of them coming into contact with power or other cables.
  • The footprint of the store should allow space for the expected quantity of gas cylinders being stored as well as for the safe movement and handling of the gas cylinders, including access for mechanical handling equipment.
  • Appropriate access to the site will be required. This will include access for delivery vehicles and the emergency services.
  • The location of the storage area should consider the security of cylinders to avoid theft and to prevent tampering with the cylinders.

 

 

 

Storage Outdoors

Ventilation is required to ensure that any small leakage of gas is adequately dispersed and will prevent a hazardous atmosphere being created. An outdoor store with open sides and without a roof is considered to provide adequate ventilation and is the preferred option for storing gas cylinders safely. 

DENIOS gas cylinder cabinets and gas containers for outdoor installation provide optimum conditions for the safe and legally compliant storage of gas cylinders. They have side mesh panels or vents in the walls for natural ventilation. Roofs provide sufficient weather protection and many of our models are equipped with safety devices which effectively help to prevent the cylinders from falling over.

Our gas cylinder cabinets and containers are also lockable and therefore meet the requirement for protection against unauthorized access.

Storage indoors

Outdoor gas bottle storage is always the preferred option, but it is not always feasible. Taking into account additional protective measures, however, it is therefore possible to store gas cylinders in the building. In addition to adequate ventilation, the following requirements must be observed, among other things:

  • Ceilings, dividing walls and outer walls must be at least fire-retardant
  • Storage rooms must be separated by self-closing fire-retardant doors to adjacent rooms
  • In storage rooms for flammable gases, only electrical systems and equipment may be used in explosion-proof design
  • The floor covering must be made of flame-retardant material
  • Between gas cylinders with flammable gases and those with oxidizing gases, a minimum distance of 2 m must be maintained in storage rooms
  • In storage rooms, there must be no pits, channels, floor drains and chimney cleaning openings
  • The distance from compressed gas cylinders to radiators u. ä. must at least 0.50 m

For when storage outdoors is not possible, fire-resistant gas cylinder cabinets should be installed. 

DENIOS supply a range of containers to meet this requirement. Tested and approved as G90 and G30 according to DIN EN 14470-2, our fire resistant gas cylinder cabinets offer optimum fire protection and the greatest reliability for storing compressed gas cylinders indoors.

A wide accessory program, such as a ready to plug extraction unit for technical ventilation, adjusting feet for use on uneven floor surfaces, lead through points for connecting pipes and cylinder mounting rails complement the functionality of the fire resistant gas cylinder cabinets. 

Gas cylinder cabinets with fire protection for indoor installation


Transporting Gas Cylinders

 

Transporting gas cylinders pose many dangers, including personal injury and damage to the actual gas cylinder. Therefore, some safety requirements should be considered when transporting gas cylinders:

For anyone transporting gas cylinders, the minimum recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times; safety shoes, protective gloves and safety glasses.

Gas cylinders should not be rolled along the ground; this may damage or even open the valve and will also damage identifying labels, marks and symbols.

Always transport cylinders with valve caps or other valve protection in place. 

Mechanical handling equipment, such as purpose-designed trolleys, should be used for moving cylinders, wherever practicable. These professional tools are especially recommended for regular activities and have numerous safety features that prevent the falling over, rolling away and bumping the gas cylinders during transport.

On fork lift trucks gas cylinders should be secured vertically within specially designed gas pallets using the affixed restraining straps. Gas cylinders should not be lifted and moved directly on the forks of fork lift trucks.

In our online shop we offer a range of products for the safe transport of gas cylinders.


Products for safe gas cylinder handling

Transporting gas bottles on public roads

When transporting gas cylinders on public roads, the provisions of the ADR (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) must be observed. Before transport, find out about the maximum permissible total quantities per transport unit (exemption limits) for your materials. Attention should therefore be paid to the commission for the combination with other dangerous goods.

If you stay below the exemption limit, the following applies:

  • Transporting sealed gas cylinders with valve protection (eg by protective caps)

  • No opening of the packages

  • Affixing the prescribed labeling and labeling

  • Carrying a fire extinguisher

  • Loading preferably in open or ventilated vehicles

  • Prohibition of fire and open light

  • When loading work there is no smoking

  • Take heed of precautionary measures in the case of food, food and feed for toxic gases

  • Protection against damage by adequate load securing

  • Carrying a transport document

  • Instruction of the driver

  • Vehicle and driver must comply with applicable regulations (operational and traffic safety, equipment)

The above principles apply to the transport of uncleaned empty gas cylinders. In this case, the transport document must contain different details of the packages.

If the exemption limit is exceeded, additional special regulations must be observed:

  • Carrying two fire extinguishers

  • Additional protective equipment is needed

  • The driver needs ADR certificate

  • Transport unit and, if applicable, packages must be marked

  • Special precautions for stopping, parking, loading and unloading apply

  • Monitoring the vehicles

  • Carrying a photo ID for each member of the vehicle crew

  • Compliance with special regulations for toxic gases

  • Prohibition of the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other means affecting the activities of the profession


Safe working with gas cylinders

In general, you should specify safety measures and regulations for the use of gas cylinders in your facility based on your previous risk assessment. Here are some general hints:

  • The safety-relevant properties of the gases and information on specific safety measures.
  • Train workers regularly and to an appropriate extent on the operation of pressurized gas containers, the specific hazards and the measures to be taken in the event of accidents and incidents. Especially when changing special care and attention is required.

Before use, for example, the prescribed personal protective equipment (PPE) should be applied and, if present, the suction device switched on. If possible, sufficient natural ventilation should be provided. Before using or changing the bottle, make sure you connect the correct gas bottle and observe the specific substance properties of the contents. Check lines and hoses regularly for damage and make sure all connections are tight. In the future, making sure they are not rubbing against corners or edges over roads. Fittings, hoses and tools for oxygen must always be free of grease, oil and dirt, otherwise there is a risk of spontaneous combustion. Secure the gas cylinder against falling at the workplace.

  • Read the MSDSs and labels for all of the materials used

  • Know all of the hazards (fire/explosion, health, chemical reactivity, corrosivity, pressure) of the materials used

  • Store compressed gas cylinders in cool, dry, well-ventilated areas, away from incompatible materials and ignition sources Ensure that the storage temperature does not exceed 52°C (125°F)

  • Store, handle and use compressed gas cylinders securely fastened in place in the upright position

  • Never roll, drag, or drop cylinders or permit them to strike each other

  • Move cylinders in handcarts or other devices designed for moving cylinders

  • Leave the cylinder valve protection cap in place until the cylinder is secured and ready for use

  • Do not allow flames to contact cylinders and do not strike an electric arc on cylinders

  • Ensure all employees are equipped with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Ensure all staff members are trained regularly and know how to handle emergencies such as fires, leaks or personal injury

  • Regularly maintain and inspect equipment for signs of damage

Changes and errors excepted. All information has been carefully researched. Nevertheless, DENIOS can not guarantee the topicality, correctness, completeness or quality of the information provided.


Need more information or advice? Call 01952 700 567 to speak to a DENIOS expert.