Guidance for Those Who Use and Store Gas Cylinders

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1 King s Gate Tel Safety Office February 2012 Guidance for Those Who Use and Store Gas Cylinders Version 3 Newcastle University 2012 This guide is designed to help staff manage gas cylinders and equipment safely and appropriately. It gives practical advice about how to use and manage gas cylinders within laboratory or workshop settings. University Safety Policy states: Designs and developments of pressure systems must be examined by a competent person prior to construction, and all pressure systems must be routinely examined. Pressure systems, which are School property, must be notified to the ESS who facilitate an inspection programme. This applies even if a different inspection system is being used in which case the evidence of inspection must also be provided to the ESS. This is an insurance requirement. Users of Cylinders of compressed gases must be properly instructed in their use and made aware of the potential hazards. Cylinders should be stored secured upright and transported only on appropriate trolleys. Regulators must be regularly examined and no regulator over 10 years old will be acceptable regardless of superficial condition or use history. Acetylene cylinders are specifically required to be notified to the USO, and are only to be used where there is no alternative available. Acetylene gas units (including mobile oxy-acetylene welding units) are not permitted on site without the express permission of the USO. This is because of the unique and highly explosive nature of the acetylene cylinder and the impact of the standard emergency services response to the hazards that these cylinders represent. To ensure that you follow the requirements of University Safety Policy it is vital that this guidance is implemented with immediate effect. Contents Risk Assessment... 2 Cylinders... 2 Regulators... 3 Storage... 4 Handling and Use... 4 Leak Tests... 5 Training... 5 Inspection Sheet... 6

2 Risk Assessment A suitable and sufficient COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations) and DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations) risk assessment must be performed for gas and gas equipment used within Newcastle University. Please refer to MSDS and the USO website for further information. Risk Assessment controls must always be followed including PPE requirements. Cylinders Preferably, gases should be obtained from the central net (e.g. natural gas, Compressed air). Many gases, however, have to be obtained from cylinders at the work place. Such highpressure cylinders either contain a gas (e.g. nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, argon), or a liquified gas (e.g. ammonia, butane, propane). Data about cylinder contents can be derived from the colour of the cylinder or from any labels or imprints it may carry. If doubt exists the imprinted information is decisive. A gas cylinder contains a large amount of a substance under high pressure; furthermore, the substance concerned may be toxic and/or combustible and/or produce rapid asphyixiation in confined areas. Therefore, there are four types of safety measures: The lowest possible number of cylinders should be kept in the work place, and each cylinder should not vastly exceed a volume appropriate for the intended work The frequency with which cylinders are moved or transported should be kept to a minimum The user should be familiar with the all rules applying to the use of cylinders in the work place and have had appropriate training. Cylinders not in use should be removed to suitable storage facilities. Gas cylinders hired via a reputable supplier, should be inspected, examined and tested by the company that supplies the cylinder. That supplier will be responsible for certification and labelling. Users should carry out an external visual examination on each occasion of use of gas cylinder to determine whether there is obvious damage. Do not use and immediately return the cylinder to the supplier if : mounting threads are damaged the regulator doesn t seat properly or the spindle valve requires great force than normal to turn off the supply a leak test, identifies leakage, then the regulator should be returned to the supplier or other firm for further testing. Please refer to Leak Test information within this guidance document. laboratory personnel are not permitted to repair or modify cylinders (this also applies to regulating discs) every cylinder should be returned before the imprinted inspection date has expired, irrespective of the amount of gas it still contains. Fit an automatic shut-off/isolation-valve This is activated by a low pressure signal when the supply gas cylinder pressure reaches a level which requires the cylinder to be replaced. An alarm should normally be incorporated into the system to alert the operator. Valve maintenance If grit, dirt, oil or water enters the cylinder valve then safety and/or quality may be compromised and gas leakage may occur. Before assembling regulators and fittings, it is extremely important to

3 ensure there are no particles of dirt in the cylinder outlet. Use of clean compressed air should be used to blow out any loose particles of dirt from the valve sockets. If the valve outlet contains oil then do not attempt to use the cylinder; it must be returned to the supplier. Please note: eye protection must be worn during this operation. Avoiding cylinder contamination backflow The following should be observed: always close the supply cylinder valve when not in use never leave an empty cylinder connected to a process never use a cylinder as a receiver for waste gas, liquid or other material fit preventative equipment Fit a non-return valve or check valve This is the simplest and cheapest method of preventing backflow and must be considered as the minimum requirement. These valves require regular maintenance as particulate matter or corrosive conditions can prevent resealing. What to do if your cylinder becomes contaminated If you suspect a cylinder has become contaminated, by whatever means or whatever the contamination, you must inform the supplier immediately. Before the cylinder is returned, please ensure that you label the cylinder and provide any relevant information about the known or suspected contamination. This information is required even if the contaminant, such as water, has been emptied out of the cylinder before return. Regulators In most cases, gas regulators are installed primarily for process control purposes. Regulators installed for this purpose should be regarded as pipework and included in the written scheme where their failure could give rise to danger. Regulators must be regularly examined and no regulator over 10 years old will be acceptable regardless of superficial condition or use history. Users should carry out an external visual examination on each occasion of use of gas regulator to determine whether there are obvious signs of physical damage to the valves, casing, coupling and threads. Further inspection will be required using laboratory and workshop checklists. Check that the regulator is suitable for use with the gas in the cylinder. Under no circumstances should a regulator be used on a gas cylinder that contains a different gas from that which the regulator is designed to dispense Annually, or if there is reason to suspect a leak, technicians should conduct a simple Leak test the results of which should be recorded on the record sheet provided. Please see appendix 1 Record sheet must be retained by the school for a minimum period of five years It is not permitted to remove the cylinder head. The correct type of regulating disc should be installed vertically and without exerting excessive force. The user should check whether there should be a packing ring between the regulating disc and cylinder and, if so, whether it is present. No oil or grease should be used to make connection easier, especially not in the case of oxygen. In the case of combustible or toxic gases, the safety valve of the regulating disc should be fitted with a hose leading to a fume cupboard. If a cylinder is (temporarily) out of use, its main valve should be closed, and there should no

4 longer be pressure on its regulating disc. Regulator valves should always be opened slowly. Hammers, mallets or excessive leverage must never be used on a stiff or frozen valve. Empty cylinders must be closed before detaching the regulator, clearly marked as empty and returned to the supplier. When using a carbon dioxide cylinder (with jet freezer adaptor) to make dry ice, suitable protective equipment must be worn to prevent burns i.e. gloves and goggles/face visor. The regulator must identify the names of gas, maximum outlet and inlet pressure, BS / EN number and the manufacturer/ supplier name / logo. Annual gas regulators inspections must be carried out by a competent person accredited to BS EN ISO/IEC 17020:2004 General criteria for operation of the various types of bodies performing inspection. Storage Entry door(s) to storage area(s) must display Compressed Gases safety sign. Cylinders should not be stored within chemical stores. Access to cylinder keys should be restricted to authorised staff i.e. keys should not be kept with cylinder Sulphur dioxide cylinders must not be stored beside corrosive substances; separate area of chemical store will suffice. Protect gas cylinders from external heat sources that may adversely affect their mechanical integrity. Do not store next to radiators or other heat sources. Ensure the valve is kept shut on empty cylinders to prevent contaminants entering the cylinder. Store gas cylinders securely when they are not in use, they should be properly restrained against the wall or in trolleys designed for the purpose. This will prevent falling. Gas cylinders must be clearly marked to show their contents and the associated hazards. Store cylinders where they are not vulnerable to impact, e.g. under shelves, behind doors. Inert gas cylinders such as oxygen and carbon dioxide should be stored separately and 3 meters distance from pyrophoric and flammables. Handling Cylinders must be transported and securely stored in the trolleys provided for this purpose. Use gas cylinders in a vertical position, unless specifically designed to be used otherwise. Do not drop, roll or drag gas cylinders. When required wear suitable safety shoes and other personal protective equipment when handling gas cylinders/regulators. Do not use valves, shrouds and caps for lifting cylinders unless they have been designed and manufactured for this purpose. Please refer to the manual handling example risk assessment which is available on the USO website. Use Always double-check that the cylinder / gas is suitable for the intended use. Before connecting a gas cylinder to equipment or pipework make sure that the regulator and pipework are suitable for the type of gas and pressure being used. Do not use gas cylinders for any other purpose than the transport and storage of gas. User s should always carry out an external visual examination of gas cylinder and regulator to determine whether there is any physical damage.

5 Leak Tests On an annual basis, or if there is reason to suspect a leak, carry out a simple Leak test the results of which should be recorded. All equipment in a gas system must be checked for leaks after assembly and corrective action taken before use: wear goggles or face visor for this test. ensure the leak detect solution is compatible with the materials used in the equipment construction, incompatible solutions can lead to stress corrosion and cracking of the valve oil based solutions, or those containing fatty acids, can ignite if they come in contact with oxygen. For this reason soapy water or washing up liquid must not be used. use a small quantity of dilute leak detect solution for effective leak detection apply the leak detect solution to all joints and any potential leakage points such as at the point of connection of the cylinder valve with the regulator never apply leak test solution into a cylinder valve outlet if there is any frothing the system should be immediately depressurised and the leak corrected do not use the equipment until the leak has been rectified ensure the area is dry by wiping with a clean lint free cloth after the check has been completed once the leak has been rectified re-purge air from the system prior to use if in doubt contact your supplier do not use the cylinder and do not attempt to repair the leak. Move the cylinder to an area where the leak can disperse safely, label it and advise BOC. If the leak is significant and the the gas is flammable evacuate the building and contact University Security on British Compressed Gases Association Code of Practice 7 specifies the recommended checks and replacement cycles for portable oxy-fuel gas equipment. Guidance note GN7 gives similar recommendation for other portable gas cylinder equipment Coiled hoses Ensure that both hoses are of equal length. Do not coil surplus hose around the cylinder or regulator or on the floor adjacent to cylinders in storage or use. Keep the lengths as short as possible and ensure they are secured. A fire in a coiled hose is very difficult to extinguish. If you do have surplus hose, position it behind you to keep it clear of sparks. Training All staff and students who manage or work with gas cylinders must attend the Gas Cylinder Safety course that is provided by the University Safety Office (USO). Please use the following link to the USO website and ensure that users book a place on the waiting list: Further Information Handling of Liquid Nitrogen: Guidance and Information Sheet Laboratory Gas Cylinder Safety

6 Gas Regulator and Equipment Checks Gas Regulator: Date of Purchase: Inspection Date Visual Inspection Physical damage Yes/No Leak test Regulator Comments Signed Gas Regulator: Date of Purchase: Inspection Date Visual Inspection Physical damage Yes/No Leak test Regulator Comments Signed

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