Handling gas cylinders can be detrimental to ones life and property damage when not working with them safely. In my experience, I have witnessed and at times corrected persons using gas cylinders in an unsafe manner. They were lying down when empty or full, not fully secured when stored upright or hammering the valve cover cap when it is stuck. Gas cylinders have been known to plow through brick walls.
How serious is it in working with gas cylinders? An example of this is the following:
A workman was unloading cylinders from a delivery truck. On one of the cylinder a valve cap did not protect the valve. The workman rolled this cylinder to the hydraulic tailgate lift. Just as he stepped onto the tailgate, the cylinder slipped from his grasp and fell upright. The valve struck the ground and broke off. The full cylinder shot up like a rocket and smashed the workman’s face as it headed skyward. The cylinder was found a quarter of a mile away from the job! The workman died a few hours later in a hospital. The sad situation is that a life was lost because of this accident.
Before Moving Gas Cylinders:
• Provide adequate safety training on the do’s and don’ts for gas cylinders.
• Check the protective valve cover. The cap should be in place and secure. Never use this cover to lift the cylinder.
• Be sure the valve is closed. (Also, be sure the valves are closed when work is finished or gas cylinders are empty.)
• Never move gas cylinders when regulators are attached unless the gas cylinders are secured in a gas cylinder truck. Otherwise, remove the regulator and put on a protective valve cap. Regulators have a nasty habit of breaking off if they are bumped hard.
• If gas cylinders are frozen together during cold weather, the safest way to thaw them loose without damaging them is to use warm (not boiling) water. Never use pry bars for this job.
When Moving Gas Cylinders:
• Move gas cylinders by slightly tilting them, then rolling them on the bottom edges. Take care not to let them drop or strike other gas cylinders or objects.
• Never use choker slings or a magnet to hoist cylinders, since the chance of the gas cylinder falling is great. Hoist cylinders by using a cradle or pallet, making sure the gas cylinders are secure before the hoist.
• The workman we mentioned earlier probably didn’t have a firm grip on the cylinder when it slipped. Perhaps his hands or gloves were greasy or oily. This mistake cost him his life. Don’t you make the same mistake. Keep a firm grip on the gas cylinders at all times.
Protecting Gas Cylinders:
• If gas cylinders are close to welding or cutting operations, place a fire resistant shield between the gas cylinders and these operations. In that way sparks, hot slag or flames won’t be able to reach them.
• To keep standing gas cylinders from being knocked over, chain or tie them to a column or to something else that’s secure. This goes for both full and empty gas cylinders. Even an empty gas cylinder can cause a lot of damage if it falls on you.
• Never assume when you see gas cylinders together that they are all full. Take the same precautions when handling empty gas cylinders that you would with full ones. The reason? A gas cylinder you may think is empty could be full. When using different types of gas, separate cylinders containing one kind of gas from another.
Yes, handling gas cylinders can be detrimental to ones life and property damage when not working with them safely. When following regulatory compliance in working with and handling or storing gas cylinders correctly, it not only can save lives but also property.