With all the advances in technology, one thing hasn’t changed much in the past several decades: How compressed gas is stored and shipped.
Businesses of all types use old-fashioned gas cylinders. And they are still as heavy, bulky, and difficult to handle as ever. Yet handling gas cylinders safely is still an essential part of workplace safety.
Dangers of Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders are dangerous because they are heavy. For example, a standard cylinder of oxygen contains about 20 lbs. of gas inside. But the cylinder itself weighs about 130 lbs. That’s a combined weight of 150 lbs.
If such a heavy cylinder were to tip over onto a person or drop onto somebody’s foot, it would almost certainly result in a workplace injury.
Yet the weight of the gas cylinder isn’t even the biggest problem. The real danger is the compressed gas inside the cylinder. Should the gas cylinder fall over and crack or spring a leak, it can suddenly become a high-speed projectile weighing 150 lbs or more that can blast through anything that gets in its way, including walls, materials, and even people.
Storing Compressed Gas Cylinders
When stored properly, gas cylinders are relatively safe to use. As long as they are handled with respect and care, they usually aren’t dangerous.
Always store cylinders upright, not laying on their side. Not only are they easier to handle, but there is less risk of damaging them. Also, it’s harder for them to roll away.
While storing compressed gas, make sure the valves are completely closed and any protective devices like tags or caps are secured.
Where to Store Compressed Gas
Secure cylinders in an approved cylinder storage unit that includes a chain or strap that prevents them from tipping over. The storage unit should be located in an area far away from vehicle traffic, excessive heat, or electrical circuits.
Avoid storing cylinders in a closet or locker. If the valves aren’t shut all the way or there is a leak, it could create a buildup of dangerous gas. Instead, the storage unit needs to be located in a dry, well-ventilated place that is at least 20 feet away from any combustible materials.
Hang proper signage in areas where compressed gas is stored to alert people of the potential dangers.
Finally, keep empty cylinders separated from full ones to avoid confusion.
Compressed gas is stored pretty much the same way as it has been for the past century. Following these safety procedures will allow the safe use of gas in your workplace for many decades to come.