Respect The Power of Compressed Gas Cylinders

Riddle: What can fly through the air for a half-mile or more, smash its way through brick walls, yet re-lease its power through an opening no bigger than the diameter of a pencil?

Answer: A compressed gas cylinder!

Cylinders may look hardy, but they are pressurized to thousands of pounds per square inch, which makes them extremely hazardous when exposed to motion or vibration. How's this for sheer raw power? A carbon dioxide cylinder with a missing cap was carelessly pulled across an airplane hangar floor. When the cylinder fell, the valve broke off, and the bottle took off at high speed. It crashed through several aircraft wings, broke off sprinkler heads that started a flood, destroyed expensive equipment, and tore through a concrete wall before finally coming to rest outside. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the total damage was more than half a million dollars!

You wouldn't want your employees to get in the path of that runaway cylinder. The best way to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring is to train your workers to follow prescribed safe handling procedures when using compressed gas cylinders.

Understanding the Hazards

While each type of compressed gas has its own hazards, most are flammable, explosive, toxic, or a combination of these types. Some common kinds of compressed gas include acetylene, ammonia, car-bon dioxide, chlorine, fluorine, hydrogen, and oxygen. Remind your employees to read the label on the cylinder and the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for safety information.
Safety Steps

These are the recommended safe practices to follow when handling most compressed gas cylinders.

How to store them:

How to transport them:

How to use them:

How to maintain them:

Other precautions:

Training Tips

When conducting your training session, have a compressed gas cylinder available and demonstrate proper handling and operating procedures. Show what a damaged or leaking cylinder looks like and explain how to report these conditions. Review relevant MSDS's and discuss health hazards and safety precautions. Ask about any problems with transporting or storing cylinders at your facility.

In particular, warn your employees not to become complacent around compressed gas cylinders. If your workers are at all skeptical about the need to use caution, remind them of the story of the runaway cylinder that wreaked havoc.

OSHA Required Training for Compressed Gases 29 CFR 1910.253(a)(4)

Personnel. Workmen in charge of the oxygen or fuel-gas supply equipment, including generators, and oxygen or fuel-gas distribution piping systems shall be instructed and judged competent by their employers for this important work before being left in charge. Rules and instructions covering opera-tions and maintenance of oxygen or fuel-gas supply equipment including generators, and oxygen or fuel-gas distribution piping systems shall be readily available.