Gas Cylinder Safety: Good And Bad Tips To Remember
Inspecting Propane Safety (Image by Daniel Brosam)
There are so many things you can do with your gas cylinders. With a variety of gases available and nearly thousands of applications, gas cylinders have a unique place in multiple industries and communities. Sometimes improvisation can be a good thing too, so long as you’ve got the right equipment, accessories, and a little research. Without them, the possibilities may be both limited and potentially unsafe. Get it right, and not only will you be able to achieve more, but you will also make the workplace cleaner and safer for everyone.
How A Gas Cylinder Breaks
If at any point a tank does break and starts damaging property or injuring people, investigations and heavy fines can occur. As for specific types of damages and injuries, that depends on the gas and type of cylinder. There are different ways it can break, from small dents and scratches to full-on explosions.
Accidental damage can be easily avoided. Some will do dangerous things to achieve specific results, but there’s no need for such risks. There are lots of simple things you can do to improve gas tank utilization and your own safety. Most of these safety tips involve simple bad habits to be broken.
Bad Gas Cylinder Positions
Always keep your gas cylinder in the proper upright position, never sideways or upside-down. Try to avoid tilting it even the slightest amount if you can help it. The safety principles of proper cylinder orientation apply to all gases, whether we’re talking carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium, or propane.
Most gas cylinders are designed to sit upright, never upside down or on its side. There are specific cylinders designed to sit horizontally, but those are usually a type of bulk cylinder provided by different suppliers. They’re way larger too, with weights ranging in the tons. They’re usually not meant for the general public, and they’re usually used for refilling purposes. Unless you actually have a horizontal bulk gas cylinder, there isn’t any good or safe reason to put even a smaller sized cylinder sideways. It can roll around, bump into things, and make for an easy trip hazard.
Turning gas cylinders upside down isn't necessarily any better. Typically, one would do this to get the last drop of gas out of the tank. Thanks to this unsafe method of cylinder handling, an upside down cylinder puts the regulator closer to the ground, risking breakage if the rest of the tank gives out. It also gets the gas rushing down to the valve faster than it's supposed to, even when it’s nearly empty. Imagine what can happen when this is done with a flammable gas like propane. The propane can overflow and overheat anything it’s powering, leading to accidental flare-ups or, in worse cases, explosions. If you really need to use more gas, you simply need to use another gas tank or refill the one you own.
If you do own your cylinder and have been using it for several months or years, there’s a likely chance that rust is sitting inside the tank. Putting it upside down can also get the rust to fall to the gas valve and clog it.
Forcing Gas State of Matter Changes
An alternative reason for changing a cylinder’s orientation has to do with forcing a change in a gas’ state of matter. Gases are typically stored in their liquid state, and as they leave the tank, they turn into their gaseous state. This is especially the case with carbon dioxide tanks. Most jobs will use regular CO2 tanks, but there are a few specific jobs that require something different, where instead of being expelled in an invisible gas, it will still be gaseous in nature, but appear white and vaporous. This means the CO2 is being expelled in its liquid state.
The way you’re supposed to get liquid CO2 is with a siphon CO2 tank. You can choose to get CO2 tanks with internal siphons when you place an order for one. Never opt for an option that risks the safety of others and yourself. Changing a gas cylinder’s physical orientation to achieve a change in the gas’ state of matter is unnecessarily dangerous!
Handling Gas Cylinders The Right Way
Even with the tank being in the proper orientation, you can still potentially breach safety regulations. In many cases, these dangers can be avoided by simply following good safety protocols. from using the right equipment to making smart decisions at work. Even the workspace matters.
Using The Right Safety Equipment
There are simple ways of making gas storage, handling, and transportation safer. Keeping a gas cylinder in a stable and upright position is the way to go. There are various brackets, stands, and even protective gear that can help with keeping the cylinder itself stable and unharmed.
For stationary storage, whether indoors or outdoors, cylinder stands and wall brackets are a great option. A simple cylinder stand can keep your tank sitting upright. If you want it against the wall, a wall mounted cylinder bracket will do the job, keeping your CO2 and helium cylinders locked in place against the wall. When it comes to transportation, a cylinder safety cart, which is a type of hand truck, will move a gas tank on wheels. Some are designed to cradle the tank, others will use a strap or chain to secure it.
Most gases are going to be extremely cold inside and outside of the tank. With that in mind, it may be a good idea to wear gloves designed to protect yourself from potential frostbite. If you plan to use your gas cylinder inside, you might want to check on CO or CO2 levels in the room too. A gas sentry would work great in this regard.
Regular utilization of the right equipment and accessories can help in developing safe and responsible habits when it comes to handling and storing gas cylinders. However, there are other smart things you can do to maximize your and your workmates’ safety. After all, it’s more than just about the equipment.
Gas Tank Surroundings & Workplace Safety
Think about your physical work environment. First and foremost, the workplace should always be clean, especially if you’re bringing industrial products and equipment into the scene. Access to a gas cylinder’s designated location shouldn’t be difficult, so unless they’re kept organized within a cage, make sure you keep the space around the tank open and clear, free of trip hazards and obstructions. Clean up and manage all items in the area and, if possible, try to utilize wall space to maximize the amount of floor space you have. Just make sure your use of vertical space is nowhere near or above the tank, in order to avoid any items from accidentally hitting the tank, thus toppling it over or denting it.
You need to consider the temperature of the space too. Keep your tank in a dry, cool spot. It should never be left somewhere that’s bound to get extremely hot for a long period of time. An overheated tank can cause gas expansion, combustion, or worse yet, full on explosions. You should be especially mindful of this if you plan to transport your cylinder from point A to point B in your car.
And as mentioned before, keep it secure in an upright position, not just in your car, but even in your workplace. If you remember what was discussed about preventing trip hazards from appearing at work, imagine a gas cylinder on its side. While it's unlikely you’ll ever tolerate a cylinder on its side at any point, it’s still worth mentioning things that could happen accidentally. And what’s more, when you apply these simple practices, it creates and promotes a safer, cleaner, and healthier working environment for everyone to work in!
CO2 Masters' Services and Equipment
We have teams dedicated to gas deliveries, as well as gas tank installation and safety. Our drivers are dedicated to making gas deliveries quick and easy. Our installers can help you get your gas cylinders hooked up to your special effects equipment if necessary. Our rates for gas rentals are flat and low. We also simplify the complicated logistics for you, so that you don’t have to worry about any complicated technicalities or surprise fees.
We have a collection of safety gas stands, as well as a CO2 monitor available in our shop. As for gas cylinders, we have carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and propane tanks that you can rent on our ordering page. You can choose your quantity of different gases and sizes. If you’re getting CO2 cylinders, you’ll have the additional option of including or excluding an internal siphon. If you need help with anything related to gas cylinder knowledge, our resources are of good help, and our staff are experts in industrial gas knowledge and the entertainment field.
Speaking of entertainment, we’re the go-to gas company for special event industries looking for special effect gases. Ask us about any special services and promos that might be of interest for long-running special events, like music and theater tours.