GAS CYLINDER SAFETY
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
So your business stores and uses gasses in portable cylinders and you're not sure if you are doing it right. In this article we look at 4 questions to help you understand your safety requirements:
Am I complying with the regulations?
Do I understand the hazards?
Am I storing it correctly?
Am I Handling it safely?
This article is general information only. For advice specific to your needs please don't hesitate to get in touch.
AM I COMPLYING WITH THE REGULATIONS?
In Western Australia, the control of Dangerous goods Storage and handling is administered by the Department of Mining, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) under the Dangerous Goods Safety Act 2005 and the Dangerous Goods Safety (Storage and Handling of Non-Explosives) Regulations 2007. These regulations outline the obligations of facility operators to store and handle dangerous goods safely and whether a dangerous goods site licence is required.
Many of these regulations are not prescriptive, as in they don't tell you explicitly what you have to do to comply. For example regulation 58 states:
"An operator of a dangerous goods site must ensure that storage or handling systems at the site have been designed, built, installed, commissioned, maintained, and isolated by means of distance or barriers so that, so far as is reasonably practicable, they can be operated with minimal risk to people, property and the environment."
This is where the codes of practice, such as the Australian Standards, are important as they provide guidance on how to reduce the risk. Some example Australian Standards related to gases in cylinders include:
Note that these standards are only applicable to specific storage and handling scenarios or products. Make sure you check the scope at the front of the document before you start to use it.
For further information from your state or territory click on the links below:
Comcare - Commonwealth Government
If you need advice on which standards you require or how to interpret the legislation get in touch.
DO I UNDERSTAND THE HAZARDS?
Gas Cylinders are Portable pressure vessels designed to contain gas stored under significant pressure, this presents a significant hazard in the workplace, on the farm and around the home including:
WHAT CAN GO WRONG?
Fire or explosion from the release of flammable gases near ignition sources (e.g. acetylene or liquefied petroleum gas(LPG))
Spontaneous combustion from oxidising gases (e.g. oxygen or nitrous oxide)
Exposure to toxic or corrosive gases (e.g. anhydrous ammonia)
Asphyxiation from some non-toxic, non-flammable gases by displacement of oxygen (e.g. nitrogen, carbon dioxide or argon).
Cryogenic burns from the release of gas under pressure.
Personal injury from manual Handling of the gas cylinders.
An uncontrolled release of a flammable gas (e.g. BBQ LP gas) may lead to a fire or explosion, particularly in a confined area where potential ignition sources are present. Loose or faulty connections or damage to a valve or regulator may cause a failure and rapid release of the gas.
HOW DO I LEARN ABOUT THE HAZARDS?
The first step should be to obtain a copy of the Safety Data Sheet from your supplier. In there you will find information specific to the products you intend to store / handle.
Other sources of information could include:
manuals and guidance from the supplier such as this LPG safety manual
information bulletins issued by various government authorities such as the DMIRS, local fire brigades etc.
articles by industry bodies such as the Australian Gas Association
If you need help understanding the hazards associated with your products or can't find the information you need, get in touch.
AM I STORING IT CORRECTLY?
Portable gas cylinders are designed to store the gas as safely as possible. However there are a few things to keep in mind when storing these cylinders on your site.
SO WHAT DO I NEED TO DO FIRST?
Ensure that you are complying with the State or Territory regulations where your storage is located
Before you store or handle Hazardous Chemicals you must ensure that you have obtained and understand the requirements of the Safety Data Sheet for the product.
Follow any safety instructions or advice provided by the supplier and/or manufacturer.
HOW CAN I STORE GAS CYLINDERS SAFELY?
Store cylinders in the upright position. Some gases (e.g. LPG and acetylene) contain a gaseous and liquid phase. Some flammable gas cylinders contain a pressure relief valve that must be in contact with the vapour phase if the cylinder is to function properly during an emergency.
Always position the cylinder such that the relief valve is pointing away from combustible materials or the structure of the building.
Ensure cylinders are prevented from falling or being knocked over by securing them using a racking system or using a non abrasive, coated chain that will not scratch the cylinder markings and paint work.
Ensure that all of the connections are tight and not leaking, this can be checked with a spray bottle with soapy water (NOT a Match)
If the gases are stored inside a building, a mechanical ventilation system may be required if the natural ventilation is inadequate. Expert advice should be obtained if unsure.
Do not place cylinders in confined spaces (Unless specifically designed for that purpose such as self contained breathing apparatus cylinders breathing air)
Both empty and full gas cylinders should be stored outdoors in a secure cage and in well ventilated areas away from sources of radiant heat
Where possible, store cylinders in the shade to avoid exposing cylinders to direct sunlight.
DO I NEED TO KEEP THE CYLINDERS AWAY FROM OTHER THINGS?
Store Gas Cylinders away from Ignition sources, especially Division 2.1 Flammable Gasses such as LPG and Acetylene and avoid placing Ignition sources such as power tools, naked flame or Power Points within the Hazardous area of the gas cylinders as described below.
Store gas cylinders separately from other hazardous chemicals; by at least 5m or by using appropriate fire-rated barriers.
Segregation of incompatible goods also allows fire fighters to safely use appropriate firefighting media for each type of goods present.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DON'T KEEP THINGS SEPARATED?
When stored incorrectly the following incidents may occur:
corrosive liquids can damage gas cylinders on contact
A pool fire from flammable liquids can spread and such that flames come into contact with gas cylinders.
Gas cylinders must also be segregated from other incompatible gases by at least 3 m or more. The following is recommended:
Store class 2.3 Toxic gas and corrosive gases (those with a subsidiary risk of class 8 Corrosive) away from all other gas cylinders.
Segregate class 2.1 Flammable gas during storage from all oxidising gases.
HOW DO I MANAGE MY STORE SAFELY?
Do not store objects on top of gas cylinders.
Store full and empty cylinders separately, in clearly marked areas.
Rotate stock, ensuring a first-in-first-out process.
Ensure gas cylinders are stored at least 3 m away from combustible materials and debris (e.g. timber, cardboard, packaging materials).
Do not locate gas cylinders where they may block stairs, exits, ladders or walkways.
Keep an up-to-date and accurate inventory.
Keep inventory quantities as low as possible.
DO I NEED ANY SIGNS?
In Western Australia, where gases are stored in excess of the prescribed placarding quantities shown in column 4 of Schedule 1 — Quantities of dangerous goods in the Dangerous Goods Safety Regulations, placarding must be erected at the following locations:
the main point of entry into a building
at either the main point of entry to a room or enclosure or other area
adjacent to where the gas cylinders are being stored.
Dependant on the Division of Gas that is being stored the following placards are required:
Where the placarding quantities specified in the DGS Regulations Schedule 1 are exceeded at a workplace, an outer warning placard stating 'HAZCHEM' must be visible from every entrance to the premises.
Storage of gases in larger cylinders such as for cylinder refill or decanting (containers larger than 500L Water Capacity) require the installation of an Emergency Information Panel, this panel as shown below shall include the proper shipping name, UN number, class diamond label and HAZCHEM Code.
AM I HANDLING MY GAS IN CYLINDERS SAFELY?
Storing the cylinders safely is one part of the challenge. You also need to ensure they are handled correctly to minimise the risk to your team.
HOW DO I MOVE MY CYLINDERS SAFELY?
When moving Portable gas cylinders always ensure the following:
When moving cylinders, avoid rolling them.
Ensure that an appropriate mechanical handling device (e.g. cylinder trolley with a restraining strap) is used.
Do not use cylinders as rollers to move other objects.
To prevent a hazardous situation arising during transport of gas cylinders the following safety measures should be complied with:
The cylinder valve shall be shut firmly, but not over-tightened.
Where fitted any gas-tight outlet caps or plugs shall be re-fitted and securely closed.
Where supplied, any removable valve protection caps or domes shall be firmly replaced.
The Cylinder shall be transported in accordance with the manufacturers instructions and be securely fastened to to prevent movement.
Please note that if a gas cylinder is fitted with a pressure relief device and the venting
of the liquid would create a risk greater than the venting of the gas, the cylinder must be
stowed so that the pressure relief device communicates with the vapour space.
SHOULD I BE WEARING ANY SAFETY GEAR?
Before you handle any dangerous goods you should always consult the Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet (SDS). As a minimum you should be wearing the following:
Wear eye protection, safety shoes and gloves in gas cylinder storage and handling areas.
Follow the instructions provided on the SDS for any additional PPE required
Additional safety measures may be required depending on the product being stored such as Safety Showers, escape BA, water baths and full encapsulation suits where appropriate.
Your site operating procedures need to include the safe handling of gas cylinders. If you need help writing procedures for your dangerous goods storage and handling get in touch.
Did this article help you to understand some of the safety requirements of storing and handling of gases in portable cylinders? Are cylinders stored and handled correctly at your site? Do you have documented procedures such as Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) in place?
This article has been prepared for general guidance but does not replace the need to seek specific professional advice about the compliance and safety issues associated with dangerous goods storage such as gases in cylinders at your premises. Make sure you check your risk assessment and get in touch if you have any questions!
This article was prepared as general guidance only and based on information current at time of publication. The use of this information is at the reader's own risk, Cadre Engineering accepts no liability for any outcomes of following this guidance. For expert advice, specific to your needs, please get in touch.