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COMPRESSED GASES

INTRODUCTION

This guidance is intended to increase awareness of the risks and the precautions to be taken when using compressed gas and handling compressed gas cylinders.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

In order to assess the risk of working with compressed gas, its important to consider the ways that gases can accumulate or be released into air within the workplace. They include leaks or releases as a result of:

gas  
    • damaged or poorly maintained hoses, pipes and valves;
    • poor connections;
    • accidentally opening valves;
    • not closing valves properly after use;
    • poorly ventilated work areas.

The consequences of leaks or releases will depend on the hazardous nature of the gas but in general they are:

  • explosion e.g. release of flammable gas can create an explosive atmosphere
  • enrichment e.g. increase of carbon dioxide can result in asphyxiation
  • depletion e.g. increase of nitrogen leading to a decrease in oxygen leading to asphyxiation

NB Some gases have more than one hazardous property; for example carbon monoxide is toxic and flammable.

Other risks can result from:

    • poor manual handling technique causing injury to the operator or damage to the cylinder resulting in the release of high pressure gas;
    • over pressurisation of some experimental chambers where an inert gas is used as a purge. In these circumstances a pressure relief valve must be incorporated into the experimental set-up.
The destructive potential from the uncontrolled release of gas should not be underestimated

SAFETY DATA SHEETS

Safety data sheets provide information that helps users to make a risk assessment and these should be available at the point of use or storage. They describe the hazards and give information on handling and emergency measures in case of an accident. In addition, the safety data sheet provides information about storage, particularly segregation e.g. gases that are incompatible and shouldn't be stored together like oxygen and acetylene. See: Risk Assessment

SUPERVISION

Managers must:

    • supervise those with least experience until competence has been gained;
    • intervene and stop work if there is any variance to agreed procedures.

TRAINING

Managers who supervise work or processes which involve the use of compressed gases must be competent (through training and experience) to do so.

Anyone who uses compressed gases should be given information about the risks and instructed in gas cylinder safety. Instruction should include:

    • moving cylinders safely;
    • connecting regulators and hoses;
    • pre-use checks of cylinder and attachments.

RECORD KEEPING

Records should be kept of the information, instruction and training that individuals have received.

Instructions and procedures must be documented in the form of safe operating procedures, arrangements for safe working or codes of practice.

INSPECTION

Managers must ensure that areas where compressed gases are used and stored are inspected periodically to ensure the effectiveness of risk control measures. See: Safety Monitoring

Tools

Training

The law

FAQs

RiskNET Risk Assessment

Using Gas Cylinders Safely

Connecting Regulators and Safe Cylinder Set-up

Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002

Frequently asked questions

USEFUL LINKS

BOC

Safety Data Sheets

 


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