Compressed Gas Cylinders - Understanding, Storage, Handling and Hooking Up
Compressed gas cylinders are found in nearly every facility. They are safe and easy to work with, however they are also potentially dangerous. The compression itself and the gas inside both pose dange...
Compressed gas cylinders are found in nearly every facility. They are safe and easy to work with, however they are also potentially dangerous. The compression itself and the gas inside both pose dangers that can be serious hazards. All employees who come in contact with compressed gas cylinders should be able to understand what gases are inside the cylinder, how to hook up the cylinder and how to store the cylinder.
Some of the many uses of compressed gas cylinders are to provide fuel for welding, supply breathable air, and to carry out lab experiments. Storing these gases puts them under a tremendous amount of pressure and this can cause accidents and releases. In order to understand and work with cylinders correctly, workers need to understand the different types of gases stored in the cylinders and how they are compressed.
Standard compression squeezes substances into the cylinder, but keeps them in gaseous form - Oxygen and hydrogen are stored this way. Carbon Dioxide and Propane are stored in liquid form. Acetylene is dissolved into a solvent and then compressed. Nitrogen and Argon are compressed by cooling them into a Cryogenic Liquid.
Many of these gases present problems when released. Checking the labels and warning signs on the cylinders will help understand their dangers. Carbon Monoxide and Phosgene can be poisonous. Flammable gasses and Oxidizers like Fluorine and Oxygen can cause fires and explosions. Corrosives like Chlorine can burn the skin and Nitrogen and Helium can actually push breathable air out of a room. Nitrogen is stored at an extremely low temperature and can burn the skin.
The proper storing of cylinders is imperative. All cylinders should be kept in a cool, dry place that is out of the direct sunlight and be secured so they can't fall or bump each other. Oxidizers and Flammables should be separated into different room at least 30 feet apart.
Handling compressed gas cylinders should be done with a cylinder hand cart whenever possible. Make sure the safety cap is on and don't drag or roll the cylinders. If a cylinder starts to fall, let it! Never try to catch a falling cylinder.
Correctly hooking up a cylinder starts with taking the safety cap off. Never use a device to pry the cap off. Your hand should be a good enough tool. A regulator with a CGA Fitting should be permanently attached to the cylinder. The regulator controls the rate which the gas is sent from the cylinder. The CGA Fitting is designed specifically for certain types of gases. Never try to force a CGA to fit. You may be hooking up the wrong type of gas. The Cylinder might also have a Pressure Relief Device which will control the gas in the event of a fire. Toxic gases will not have a PRD because of specific hazards unique to this type of gas.
When the cylinder is hooked up, check the fittings with a diluted soap solution. The solution will show bubbles if there is a leak. A simple tightening with a wrench may fix the problem, but if you suspect a leak you should alert other workers, notify your supervisor and consult the gas's MSDS for more information. If the gas is flammable don't unplug equipment or turn off lights! This could cause a spark. If necessary, evacuate the area and follow your facilities emergency plan. If you need to enter the area of a leak, make sure you wear a respirator and have a back-up crew.
Handling compressed gas cylinders is a safe and easy job when the proper safety procedures are followed. Make sure you understand what gases are inside the cylinder, how to hook up the cylinder and how to store the cylinder. All employees who come in contact with compressed gas cylinders should be trained comprehensively in these areas.
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