If not handled, maintained and looked after in the right way, gas cylinders (and the gases inside) can be dangerous!
Compressed gases are Class 2 dangerous goods – with a number of rules and regulations in place to mitigate the associated risks.
Find out more about the risks, precautions and importance of correct practice when it comes to gas cylinders, with help from our A to Z guide to Gas Cylinder Health and Safety.
Application of the manual handling operations regulations to gas cylinders
This document provides the latest guidance on the principles of safe practice when handling gas cylinders.
Produced by the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA), it takes account of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations as they relate to gas cylinders and provides a worked example of a typical manual handling risk assessment. It’s essential reading for anyone involved in the manual handling of cylinders.
Click here to read or download it.
ADR Regulations (Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road)
Transporting gas cylinders can be a serious safety risk, especially when it comes to cylinders containing toxic, flammable and asphyxiant gases.
Compressed gases are considered dangerous goods, so it’s essential to take the right precautions and handle them accordingly. The international rules that cover this are called the ADR Regulations.
Bulk Storage of Cylinders
It’s important to ensure that cylinders are stored correctly.
This code of practice provided by the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) provides the latest best practice advice and guidance for the safe storage of gas cylinders. In addition to guidance on the construction and management of gas cylinder stores, it also provides information on the likely hazards and risks
Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, there will be changes to the regulations covering the safe handling of Transportable Pressure Equipment (T-PED) and Pressure Equipment (PED)
The UK is and will remain a signatory to the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) see above.
When placing transportable pressure equipment on the UK market, following successful conformity assessment by a GB Appointed Body, it will be marked with a ‘rho’ (ρ) mark.
When placing pressure equipment on the UK market, following successful conformity assessment by a GB Approved Body, it will be marked with a ‘UKCA’ mark.
Carriage of Gas Cylinders
Transporting gas cylinders can be risky – so it’s essential it’s done in the right way, in line with the latest ADR regulations.
See A – ADR regulations.
Colour Coding of Gas Cylinders
Following a standardised colour coding system for medical gas cylinders is one of the easiest ways to quickly identify the contents of a medical gas cylinder.
Further information can be found in TIS20 Medical Gases – the BCGA policy on colour coding. Revision 2: 2019 report. We’ve created a dedicated overview of the document here.
Date Marking of Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders contain large amounts of stored energy, meaning it is vital they are made to specific standards and regularly maintained to ensure the safety of those who work with them.
This applies to both the cylinder itself, and the gas stored within. Date marking is essential in this respect as it can show when the cylinder was manufactured, and when it needs to be tested.
It’s vital that gas cylinders are stored in the correct environment and in an appropriate way. For more information please click here, or see the British Compresses Gases Association: Code of Practice 44 (The Storage of Gas Cylinders).
The relationship between pressurised gas cylinders and fire is complicated.
Pressurised oxygen can pose a fire risk, especially in healthcare settings, and for those using oxygen cylinders at home.
Conversely, it is also essential for firefighters – it’s an integral part of the SCBAs they use to successfully do their job!
For more about fire safety, risks and precautions, please see our post: Risks, Safety and Design – Fire and Pressurised Gas Cylinders.
When using or storing gas it is crucial that the appropriate control and monitoring measures are adhered to. Control measures are the measures that will assist in ensuring people do not enter or remain in dangerous areas and warn of the development of an unsafe atmosphere.
Being able to identify potential hazards or when reduced oxygen atmospheres could occur is an important part of gas monitoring and can help prevent explosions or prevent worker injury or exposure to toxic gases. As a result, all workplaces should be subject to a full risk assessment.
Handling Gas Cylinders
Some gases can be hazardous, meaning they must be supplied and stored in containers designed keep them safe. They must also be handled correctly (see A – Application of the manual handling operations regulations to gas cylinders), and when transported must comply with specific carriage of dangerous goods regulations.
When in use, they need specialist equipment to distribute them to their point of use, and all those involved in the transport need specific and appropriate training to do this safely.
Inspection and Testing of Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders need to be inspected and tested on a periodic basis (usually between 5 – 15 years, depending on design).
This process helps to ensure the cylinder is safe and in good working order, providing assurance that each cylinder is fit for purpose. The test periodicity is laid down in ADR, Packing Instruction P200. For more information, please click here.
Jurisdiction of Health and Safety Regulations
The Health and Safety Act at Work provides a unified institutional structure and legal framework for health and safety regulation in the UK.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces this law in many workplaces including health and safety in nuclear installations and mines, factories, farms, hospitals, schools, offshore gas, oil installations and more.
For more information, please click here.
Keeping up to date on Health & Safety Matters
Health and Safety regulations are continually adapting and changing. It’s important to keep up to date with them to remain compliant and reduce risk.
When it comes to gas cylinders in the UK, the BCGA website is a good resource for the latest information.
Lessons Learned from the Pandemic
The consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic saw a huge increase in the demand for oxygen cylinders.
This has highlighted how vulnerable healthcare systems around the world are, and the need to be prepared in the future by having robust oxygen supplies, and enough medical oxygen cylinders available in case of emergencies.
Maintenance of Seals on Medical Gas Cylinders
The maintenance of seals on medical gas cylinders is essential to ensure the contents are not compromised, and that the gases inside cannot leak.
For further information please see GN26 Medical gases – Selection and maintenance of seals used on high pressure cylinders, Revision 1:2019.
To read it, please click here.
The legislation around gas cylinders changes regularly. In the UK, resources such as the BCGA provides information on the latest guidance, rules and regulations.
Oxygen Generators in the Home / Oxygen in the Home
Home oxygen therapy is vital for many people living with chronic lung conditions. Although it is safe, a few simple rules must be followed to reduce the risk of fire and oxygen saturation. They must also be stored and handled correctly.
For more information, please click here.
Portable and Mobile Gas Cylinder Use
Many oxygen cylinders (such as ultra-lightweight, Type 3 carbon composite cylinders from AMS) are designed to be portable – enabling the users who depend on them to live independent lives. For information on how to safely use individual portable or mobile cylinder gas supply, please click here.
Quality Management and Health and Safety
The medical gases industry is heavily regulated, meaning every organisation has an obligation to take quality management seriously.
This includes complying with the basic principles of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Distribution Practice (GDP) – both of which are part of the overall Quality Management System (QMS) which covers all the regulatory requirements for the storage, distribution, and supply of products.
For further information, please visit the blog we produced on the subject: Quality Management in medical Gas Cylinders – BCGA Guidance.
In addition to the usual ISO9001:2015 quality standard that AMSCC adheres to both in the UK and at the main site of AMS in Taiwan, it is also important that companies like AMS with business in aerospace applications are aware of and work towards AS/EN9100
Residual Pressure Devices
The quality of gas within medical gas cylinders is integral to their efficacy in the medical environment. It is therefore vital to ensure that the gas is not compromised or contaminated in any way.
One of the easiest ways of preventing this is by fitting cylinder with valves incorporating residual pressure devices (RPD) – which prevent atmospheric contamination, even when valves are left open.
Find out more here.
Storage of Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders must be stored correctly, safely and in the right environment. Safeguards such as using a well ventilated external store in a secure location, away from any sources of ignition will help to mitigate the risk of damage, leaks and fire.
BCGA Code of Practice 44 provides a full overview of the latest industry best-practice.
Smoking near Oxygen
Smoking or using naked flames close to gas containers or any areas where medical gases are in use is incredibly dangerous.
When oxygen is in use there is the potential for localised oxygen enrichment, leading to an increased risk of fire.
Testing of Gas Cylinders
Please see I – Inspection and Testing
Training of Staff
Employers must ensure their employees are trained to a specific and certain standard to meet their obligations in respect of the Health and Safety at Work Act to “Provide information, instruction and training to ensure the health and safety at work of employees.”
For more information, please visit the BCGA’s page on Gas Training here.
Understanding the Health and Safety of Gas Cylinders
Having a comprehensive understanding of the health and safety requirements surrounding gas cylinders is essential for all those who work with or use them.
They pose serious damage if handled or used incorrectly. A good resource to refer to is the BCGA website, which details correct practice and provides downloads to various Guidance Notes.
Waste Disposal of Gas Cylinders
Gas cylinders contain gases stored under pressure, meaning they may also have large amounts of stored energy and gases that can impact the environment.
As a result, there are strict guidelines regarding how they should be disposed of. For more information, please see the BCGA’s page on Cylinder Recovery and Disposal.
eXecutive of Health and Safety
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.
For further information, please see J – Jurisdiction.
All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are controlled. This is primary responsibility falls on the employers, but workers also have a duty to take care of their own health and safety, and others who may be affected by actions at their workplace.
For more information, please click here.
Gas cylinders present serious harm when used or handled incorrectly, so a zero-tolerance approach is extremely helpful in managing and mitigating risk.
Lightweight Gas Cylinders from AMS Composite Cylinders
At AMS Composite Cylinders, we specialise in supplying high quality gas cylinders and to customers around the world – with Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 cylinders available in standard and custom sizes for a full range of applications.
Supplying clients across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the company produces cylinders to a wide range of recognised global standards, holding accreditations in all major markets worldwide.
AMS Composite Cylinders Manufactures to ISO and EN Standards (including ISO-11119-2, ISO 11119-1, EN 12245, EN 12257, ISO 7666, and ISO 11118) and to the requirements of UN PED/TPED, DOT (USA) and TC (Canada).
For additional information about AMS Composite Cylinders or to order, please contact us today.