Compressed gases present several hazards. Label on the cylinder and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) supplied with the gas tells you the hazardous properties of the gas; such as toxic, flammable, or oxidizer. In addition to the gas hazards, compressed gas cylinders present other hazards simply because they contain gas under pressure.
Regardless of the properties of the gas, any gas under pressure can explode if the cylinder is not properly stored or handled. Making a balloon fly around by suddenly releasing the air is amusing, but a flying cylinder is not so funny. The principle is the same for a balloon and a compressed gas cylinder. Improperly releasing the gas from a compressed gas cylinder is extremely dangerous. Cylinders are not balloons- they are hard and heavy. A sudden release of the gas can cause a cylinder to become a missile- like projectile, destroying everything in its path. Cylinders have been known to penetrate concrete- block walls. To prevent such a dangerous situation, there are several general procedures to follow for safe storage and handling of a compressed gas cylinder:
- Store cylinders in an area specifically designated for that purpose. This area must protect the cylinders from being struck by another object. The area must be well ventilated and away from sources of heat. It must be at least 20 feet away from combustible materials. Oxidizers must be stored at least 20 feet away from flammable gases.
- Cylinders must not be dropped or allowed to fall. Chain and rack them in an upright position during use and storage. When transporting cylinders, they must be secured from falling.
- When moving a cylinder, even for a short distance, all the valves must be closed, the regulator removed, and the valve cap installed. Never use the valve cap to lift a cylinder. If you are using a crane or other lifting devices to move a cylinder, use a cradle or boat designed for that purpose. Never use a sling or a magnet to move a cylinder.
- Never permit cylinders to contact live electrical equipment or grounding cables.
- Cylinders must be protected from the sun’s direct rays, especially in high temperature climates. Cylinders must also be protected from ice and snow accumulation.
- Before the gas is used, check hose for damages; install the proper pressure- reducing regulator on the valve. After installation, verify the regulator is working, that all gauges are operating correctly and that all connections are tight to ensure that there are no leaks. When you are ready to use gas, open the valve with your hands. Never use a wrench or other tool. If you cannot open it with your hands, do not use it.
- Cut away from self.
- Do not tuck in your trousers into safety shoes when cutting with oxy-fuel equipment.
- Cap the valve after use.
Following these procedures will help prevent accidents. Remember, your safety when using compressed gas cylinders depends on you.