Compressed gas cylinders come in many forms on the job site, ranging from the oxy-acetylene cutting rig to that can of WD-40 sitting on the shelf.
There are many types of hazards when it comes to these items:
- The commonly thought of item is explosion or fire.
- Flying off like a rocket if the valve is broken off.
- Depending on the contents, a leaking cylinder can make you sick, dizzy or unconscious.
- Large cylinders are awkward to handle and very heavy.
Tips to work with cylinders safely:
- Read the WHMIS label for each of the different cylinders you use. Don’t accept or use any cylinder that’s not properly labelled.
- Secure cylinders in use with rope, wire, or chain to keep them upright.
- Remove gauges and other attachments before moving cylinders.
- Keep cylinders upright when you transport, store, or use them.
- Never drop cylinders or let them bang into each other.
- Move cylinders using a hand truck or dolly. Never roll cylinders like logs or hoist them by their collars.
- Use a hoisting cradle to lift and lower cylinders from level to level. Never use a magnet or sling for hoisting.
- Never transport cylinders in the trunk of a car or in a closed van. Escaping gas can collect in these confined spaces and create the risk of explosion or asphyxiation.
- Keep valves closed and cylinders capped when not in use. Capping prevents damage to the connection which is the most common leakage area.
- Routinely inspect cylinders for damage or leakage. Apply soapy water around the valve area and watch for bubbles or utilize a leak detector.
- Store cylinders in a secure area, preferably outdoors, away from heat, ignition sources, and flammable materials such as wood or fuel. Note that depending on the content of the cylinder, this may also be law in your area.
- Don’t store cylinders in an area where they could be knocked over by moving equipment, struck by falling objects, or damaged. Keep them away from areas such as elevators, traffic routes, and exit routes.
- Never store cylinders in enclosed, unventilated places such as trailers.
- Clearly label empty cylinders to be returned to the supplier if applicable. Close valves and replace protective caps.
- Bring non-refillable cylinders to the appropriate recycling or hazardous materials facility for proper disposal.
- Don’t store cylinders of different gases in the same area. Keep them separate.