How to Reduce the Hazards When Handling and Storing Gas Cylinders
Basic Facts About Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders are pressure receptacles used to store liquefied and compressed gases that are potentially hazardous. These cylinders are usually made with high quality steel that are molded into seamless spherical containers. Seamless gas cylinders without welding are durable and resistant to corrosion. These are more often used for industrial applications and are also more expensive than the welded cylinders that are used for low pressure chemicals.
Gas cylinders come in different sizes; bigger cylinders are used commercial and industrial applications while small cylinders are use for residential and small industry applications. Gas cylinders usually contain the following:
- Corrosive Gases
- Cryogenic Liquids and Gases
- Flammable Gases
- Fuel, High Pressure and Oxidizing Gases
- Toxic and Highly Toxic Gases
Gas Cylinder Hazards and Its Causes
Before we discuss the proper ways to handle and store gas cylinders, let us first discuss the different hazards one may encounter when handling and storing these containers.
- Gas explosion
- Abrupt release of the compressed gas or chemical.
- Gas or chemical leaks
- Handling injuries
- Unwanted contact to other hazardous chemicals
These are the common reasons why the said hazards happen:
- Improper storage and handling
- Poor ventilation
- Poor maintenance
- Poor supervision and training
- Hidden factory damage
- Faulty design and manufacturing
How to Properly Handle Gas Cylinders
There are several ways how to avoid unwanted hazards when handling gas cylinders.
- All employees that are required to work with and around gas cylinders must undergo an extensive training on how to properly inspect, handle and store gas cylinders.
- Perform initial inspection on all cylinders you have on hand. It is also recommended that periodic examination must be done to avoid future accidents.
- Employees who will handle gas cylinders must also wear protective uniforms, shoes, gloves, masks and other protective gears for the eyes, ears and mouth.
- When handling gas cylinders one must be very careful not to drop roll or drag the cylinders.
- Make sure that you are using suitable gas cylinder trucks, lifts and vehicles when transporting or moving the gas cylinders.
- Ensure that the valve you are using is not defective and will properly fit the cylinder; same thing applies with the connectors and protective caps.
- Lastly, make sure that the gas/chemical you are using is the correct substance intended for specific application.
How to Properly Store Gas Cylinders
If you are to stock several pieces of gas cylinders, you must store it properly. If possible, gas cylinders must be store in protective gas cylinder cabinets and lockers to avoid or lessen unwanted accidents and hazards .
Below are other ways on how to properly store gas cylinders:
- Store only sufficient quantity of gas cylinders. Don't hoard.
- When you buy new stocks, make sure to move the older stock forward: strictly follow the “first in first out” rule.
- Make sure that you properly marked every cylinder to exhibit their contents and date of purchase.
- Store the cylinders in dry, well ventilated and properly lighted area.
- Store the cylinders at lease 20ft away from open fire and other combustible materials.
- Store the cylinders away from other chemicals that can contaminate and damage the cylinders.
- Store the cylinders away from the exit and entrance doors and in places wherein there is regular machine and foot traffic.
- Keep the cylinders in upright position. Ensure that the cylinders are properly secure and will not fall or roll.
- If you are using different types of cylinders, make sure to segregate them accordingly to avoid any possible danger.
What to Do in Case of Leaks and Emergencies
If in case you can't avoid accidents that can cause leaking gas cylinder, here are the things you must do to the lessen the hazard.
For Minor Leaks:
- If you suspect any leaks on your gas cylinder, use a soapy water solution to verify your suspicion. Once confirmed, immediately tighten the valve gland or packing nut.
- Immediately isolate the leaking cylinder and put in a well-ventilated area. Tag it to describe the hazard.
- Use a chemical neutralizer to direct the gas. You may also use plastic bags, duct tape and rubber shroud to cover the cylinder and confine the leaking gas.
For Major Leaks:
- Use the PPE or Personal Protective Equipment to protect yourself from the hazard the chemical/gas can cause you.
- Immediately activate the fire alarms and call emergency hotline to report the accident.
- Secure the area and evacuate as immediately as possible.
In Case of any Fire Related Emergencies:
- For small fire within an isolated area must be extinguish using proper fire extinguishers, ASAP.
- For large fire emergency, immediately activate the fire alarm, evacuate the building and call emergency hotline to report the incident.
Any Incident That Caused Physical Injury to Human:
- For minor injuries, assist the person involve in the incident and perform proper first aid.
- Report the incident to your immediate supervisor.
- If the person is not badly hurt, help him go to the nearest clinic and get him check.
- For major injuries, it is recommended not to move the victim. Call medical emergency hotline for proper assistance.
The most important thing you can do in case of any leaks and incidents involving gas cylinder is to stay calm, don't panic and keep your focus. That way you can perform proper action and therefore can avoid any further damage.
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