Safe Handling of Gas Cylinders


Working with Gas Cylinders

Gas cylinders are commonly used in daily operations in many industries. Handling and storing these cylinders may seem like a mundane task, but if done carelessly, without safety in mind, gas cylinders can leak or explode, causing serious property damage and/or injury.

There are a number of regulations that apply to the safe storage and handling of pressurized gas cylinders. These include requirements for the quality of pressurized gas containers and their testing, rules for risk assessment and protective measures for gases, their storage and transport.

All of these regulations form the framework for the safe handling of gases in the commercial environment. 

In our guide we answer some of the most important questions to ensure safety when working with gas cylinders and offer best practice tips for carrying out your own risk assessment. 

[Translate to en_US:] [Translate to en_GB:] Welche Vorschriften gelten für Tätigkeiten mit Gasen?

What are the dangers of using gases?

[Translate to en_US:] [Translate to en_GB:] Gefahren

Handling gases carries many dangers - but with the right knowledge, risks can be effectively minimized. People who work with gases in everyday operations should be made aware of the different sources of danger.

Gases are extremely versatile substances with different properties. While flammable gases pose the risk of explosion, oxidizing gases are not flammable, but rather promote the combustion of other substances. In addition, there are harmful, hazardous, toxic and corrosive gases, which pose health risks for employees. In addition, gases (all but oxygen) reduce the oxygen content in confined spaces and can endanger persons present.

It is important to always assess the hazards of gases on an individual basis. In the following, we will give you an explanation of the approach to a risk assessment of gases.


Risk Assessment

All gas cylinders contain gases under pressure that may present a risk of explosion if not safely handled and stored. 

The risk assessment must be carried out by a qualified person who has sufficient knowledge of the hazardous properties of the substances being used and is familiar with the work processes involved in order to correctly assess the working conditions and evaluate the protective measures required.

The first step is to identify the hazardous properties of the gases used in your facility. The safety data sheet will provide you with all the necessary information as it will highlight all dangerous properties of the stored substance.

The following must also be considered during the risk assessment: 

  • Explosion limits (OEG / LEL can be shifted at elevated temperature / pressure)

  • Temperature (can lead to pressure increase in the compressed gas tank)

  • Chemical properties (eg, instability)

  • Self-igniting (increased risk of fire / explosion)

  • Corrosion (eg, sulfur dioxide, can attack containers)

  • Toxic gases (eg, chlorine)

  • Suffocation

  • Gases heavier than "air" (can collect near the ground)

  • Polymerization

It should be noted that the hazards associated with the handling of gases are so varied that only a few of the effects can be stated here. A detailed analysis of the hazards of the gas must be made on a case-by-case basis.

Once the risks have been analyzed, the handling must then be considered. This includes internal transport and processing and handling by employees. The following situations describe specific hazards as examples:

  • Unintentional release (eg. leaky connections to valves)

  • Mixing gases (eg. when welding with acetylene / oxygen)

  • External effect on the compressed gas container

  • Improper maintenance (eg. pressure regulator on the valve is defective)

  • Deviation from the prescribed purpose


Storing Gas Cylinders

In many companies, gas cylinders are stocked up to ensure a continuous supply. If compressed gas cylinders are kept in stock, this is considered storage.

If you have filled gas bottles ...

... for early connection to the sampling facility (as far as this is necessary for the progress of the work)

... at workplaces for manual use

... on loading ramps or areas for early transport

... in sales rooms for the presentation of the product range

Keep them in the required number and size. The quantity of the hazardous substances must always be kept at a reasonable minimum for the continuation of daily work.

Storage requirements

Wherever you are storing pressurised gas cylinders, specific safety regulations must be observed. Here are some of the most important requirements:

Gas cylinders should be protected from excessive heat
Gas cylinders should be protected from excessive heat
Gas cylinders must not be exposed to fire
Gas cylinders must not be exposed to fire
Gas cylinders must be protected against corrosion
Gas cylinders must be protected against corrosion
Manual damage must be prevented
Manual damage must be prevented
Unauthorized persons are forbidden to enter
Unauthorized persons are forbidden to enter

Storage Outdoors

Ventilation is required to ensure that any small leakage of gas is adequately dispersed and will prevent the creation of a hazardous atmosphere. Outdoor storage with open sides and without a roof is considered to provide adequate ventilation and is the preferred option for storing gas cylinders safely. 

DENIOS gas cylinder cages and cabinets for outdoor installation provide optimum conditions for safe and legally compliant storage of gas cylinders. They have side mesh panels or vents in the walls for natural ventilation. Roofs provide sufficient weather protection and many of our models are equipped with safety devices which effectively help prevent the cylinders from falling over.

Our gas cylinder cabinets and cages are also lockable and meet the requirement for protection against unauthorized access.

In our online shop we offer a range of products for the safe transport of gas cylinders.

Products for safe outdoor storage

Storage indoors

Outdoor gas cylinder storage is always the preferred option, but it is not always feasible. Taking into account additional protective measures, however, it is possible to store gas cylinders inside the building. In addition to adequate ventilation, the following requirements must be observed:

  • Ceilings, dividing walls and outer walls must be fire-retardant
  • Storage rooms must be separated by self-closing fire-retardant doors to adjacent rooms
  • In storage rooms for flammable gases, only electrical systems and equipment may be used in explosion-proof design
  • The floor covering must be made of flame-retardant material
  • Between gas cylinders with flammable gases and those with oxidizing gases, a minimum distance of 2 m must be maintained in storage rooms
  • In storage rooms, there must be no pits, channels, floor drains and chimney cleaning openings
  • The distance from compressed gas cylinders to radiators must be at least 0.50 m

Transporting Gas Cylinders

 

Transporting gas cylinders pose many dangers, including personal injury and damage to the actual gas cylinder. Therefore, some safety requirements should be considered when transporting gas cylinders:

For anyone transporting gas cylinders, the minimum recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times: safety shoes, protective gloves and safety glasses.

Gas cylinders should not be rolled along the ground; this may damage or even open the valve. This will also damage identifying labels, marks and symbols.

Always transport cylinders with valve caps or other valve protection in place. 

Mechanical handling equipment, such as gas cylinder handling trucks, should be used for moving gas cylinders. These tools are recommended for regular activities and have numerous safety features that prevent the falling over, rolling away and bumping of gas cylinders during transport.

On forklifts gas cylinders should be secured vertically within specially designed gas pallets using the affixed restraining straps. Gas cylinders should not be lifted and moved directly on the forks of forklifts.

In our online shop we offer a range of products for the safe transport of gas cylinders.

Products for safe gas cylinder handling


Working Safely with Gas Cylinders

In general, you should specify safety measures and regulations for the use of gas cylinders in your facility based on your previous risk assessment. Here are some general hints:

  • The safety-relevant properties of the gases and information on specific safety measures.
  • Train workers regularly and to an appropriate extent on the operation of gas cylinders, the specific hazards and the measures to be taken in the event of accidents and incidents. 

Before use, for example, the prescribed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be applied. If possible, sufficient natural ventilation should be provided. Before using or changing the bottle, make sure you connect the correct gas bottle and observe the specific substance properties of the contents. Check lines and hoses regularly for damage and make sure all connections are tight. Make sure they are not rubbing against corners or edges. Fittings, hoses and tools for oxygen must always be free of grease, oil and dirt, otherwise there is a risk of spontaneous combustion. Secure the gas cylinder against falling.

  • Read the MSDSs and labels for all materials used

  • Know all hazards (fire/explosion, health, chemical reactivity, corrosivity, pressure) of the materials used

  • Store compressed gas cylinders in cool, dry, well-ventilated areas, away from incompatible materials and ignition sources

  • Ensure that the storage temperature does not exceed 52°C (125°F)

  • Store, handle and use compressed gas cylinders securely fastened in place in the upright position

  • Never roll, drag, or drop cylinders or permit them to strike each other

  • Move cylinders in handcarts or other devices designed for moving cylinders

  • Leave the cylinder valve protection cap in place until the cylinder is secured and ready for use

  • Do not allow flames to contact cylinders and do not strike an electric arc on cylinders

  • Ensure all employees are equipped with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Ensure all staff members are trained regularly and know how to handle emergencies such as fires, leaks or personal injury

  • Regularly maintain and inspect equipment for signs of damage

DENIOS makes every attempt to provide the most accurate and updated information on our site. Nevertheless, DENIOS cannot guarantee that errors and omissions may occur. We reserve the right to make changes to the content on this site at any time and without notice.


Need more information or advice? Call 1-877-388-0187 to speak to a DENIOS expert.