Gas cylinders are classified as dangerous goods on the basis of properties that can result in immediate physical or chemical effects such as fire, explosion, which can affect property, the environment or people. In short, compressed and liquefied gases have the potential for creating hazardous working environments.
Recent incidents, one involving the explosion of a gas cylinder in a vehicle, have highlighted potential dangers associated with the storage and transportation of flammable gas cylinders in confined spaces. A number of practical and administrative measures can be taken to prevent these accidents and dramatically reduce the likelihood of injury or damage.
The Storage Cabinet
Firstly, fit the gas storage cabinet to the rear of the vehicle, as this is the position furthest from the operator and vital components of the vehicle. Also, ensure the gas storage cabinets are adequately sealed off from the outside atmosphere, while allowing a small degree of ventilation.
When installing the cabinet, pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions, as finer and crucial details may vary between models.
As with all dangerous goods, ensure the appropriate signage is attached to the outside of the cabinet to warn people of the flammable nature of the contents.
Whenever placing any type of gas cylinders in storage, remove the welding torch from the cylinder. The welding torch is a common cause of explosion as the fitting can depress the valve allowing a flow of gas to the torch, which explodes when disturbed.
In addition to this, at the end of the day make sure that both the main valves, and any control valves on the torch, are shut off firmly. Simple measures like ensuring that any obvious ignition sources are kept away from the gas cylinders can make a huge difference.
Ensure the cylinder is upright, caps are secured, and that within the cabinet the cylinder is secured with a chain or appropriate belt above the midpoint, but below the shoulder.
Be sure to wear correct safety shoes when moving cylinders, and that cylinders are not be dragged or physically carried, but transported with a trolley designed for the purpose.
The employee must know the appropriate emergency procedure depending on the nature of the operation, potential location of a release or spill, quantities of material that might be released and the type of containment, chemical and physical properties of the compressed gas and availability and locations of emergency supplies and equipment
Before leaving the store, you can reduce the risk of accidents by choosing a cylinder that is compliant with the AS2865 standard. It is also imperative that anyone transporting a gas cylinder has the correct training. This training should cover the hazards associated with the materials, safety precautions relevant to the handling of the materials, emergency response procedures and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Appropriate material safety data sheets (MSDS’s), associated "SafetygramsTM," or other gas supplier product information must always be accessible.
Finally, regular inspections of all seals and transport apparatus should be conducted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, followed by any maintenance that is required.