Compressed Gases Safety
Key considerations for safe storage and handling of gas cylinders include:
- Maintaining and regularly checking cylinders, regulators, hoses and pipes to cylinders to ensure that there are no leaks or dents
- Storing cylinders in an upright position to ensure the safety device functions correctly
- Securing cylinders to prevent dislodgement
- Transport cylinders with appropriate equipment such as trolleys or gas cages
- Keep the cylinder valve closed when the cylinder is not being used
- Keep all sources of heat and ignition away from gas cylinders, even if the cylinders do not contain flammable material
- Store cylinders outdoors or in very well ventilated areas.
Gas cylinders should be fitted with a bursting disc safety device and liquid petroleum gas cylinders should have an operational spring-loaded pressure relief valve.
If a small leak occurs, the cylinder valve should be closed if it is safe to do so. Appropriate personal protective equipment should be put on before attempting to locate the leak point. For toxic gases, self-contained breathing apparatus may be required for emergency use.
The area should be well ventilated and air conditioning systems should be turned off to avoid spreading gas. However, if a large number of gas escapes, the area should be evacuated. If it is safe to do so, before evacuating, ventilate the area and remove or isolate ignition sources. Contact the gas supplier for advice, or in an emergency, contact the emergency services authority.
Potential risks associated with the transport and storage of small gas cylinders (e.g. acetylene and LPG) in vehicles must be also managed appropriately.
A range of Australian Standards provides further information relating to controlling risks from compressed and liquefied gases, such as AS/NZS 1596: The storage and handling of LP Gas, and AS 4332: The storage and handling of gases in cylinders.
Key considerations in minimising the risk of asphyxiation include:
Avoiding work being carried out in oxygen-depleted (under 19 percent) atmospheres – for example, this could be done by testing the workplace atmosphere using an approved and intrinsically-safe gas monitor
Keeping the work area well-ventilated, particularly in low-lying areas and roof spaces where gases can accumulate– this could be done by ensuring windows are open where necessary and ventilation and extraction systems are on and are fully functional
Using an air-supplied respirator, particularly in confined spaces
Checking cylinders, cylinder fittings, hoses and connections to ensure that they are not damaged or in poor condition – this might include checking fittings and hoses for signs of corrosion or degradation or spraying them with a small amount of detergent solution or leak-detection spray and looking for bubble formations which may indicate the presence of a gas leak.