Storing and Handling Tanks of Gas Safely in the Workplace

Photo courtesy of William Viker via Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of William Viker via Wikimedia Commons

Gases stored in heavy steel cylinders are common in all sorts of industries. Hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, and even propane are among the gases typically stored in workplaces.

Because most gases are stored under high pressure, heavy steel is usually used for gas cylinder tanks. This makes handling and storing gas cylinders tricky and potentially dangerous.

Depending on their size, steel gas cylinders can weigh up to 50 pounds or more. Much of that weight is the cylinder itself, which has to be thick enough to safely contain the gas under any environmental conditions.

Dropping Tanks of Stored Gas

Tall, heavy gas tanks also are unstable and shouldn’t be left standing on their own. The slightest bump or vibration can cause them to fall over.

While the tanks themselves are tough and durable, the spigots at the top can easily break or crack. And if that happens, the pressurized gas inside can erupt, causing the heavy steel tank to jettison like a rocket through your work area.

Another risk is explosion or fire. The potential for sparking can add to the risk when accidentally dropping tanks of pressurized gas.

Storing Gas Cylinders Properly

Gas cylinders that are too heavy or can’t easily be lifted or maneuvered by hand are typically stored in a gas rack. These are made from heavy steel bars that hold the tanks in place — often with chains — until they are ready to be used. Some gas cylinder racks have sleeves at the bottom that allow forklifts to easily lift and transport them throughout a work space.

Lighter gas cylinders can be stored on their sides in gas cylinder cages. These helpful materials handling devices allow you to store multiple gas cylinders safely out of the way, reducing the risk of dropping, falling, or breaking.

Gas cylinders should never be left standing unprotected. Because they are so top heavy, it doesn’t take much to send them tumbling or rolling through your work area. Even if the gas doesn’t escape, a 50-pound gas cylinder rolling down an incline is a danger and could result in serious injury.

Chaining Gas Cylinders

If gas cylinder storage racks aren’t used, tanks should at least be held in place with chains, straps, or thick ropes that prevent them from falling over. Whatever is used to secure gas cylinders need to be strong and thick enough to handle the weight should they tip over or fall.

Gas tanks are common in many workplaces. Storing them safely improves both safety and productivity.