Compressed gas cylidners are one of those occupational hazards for working in the lab. Gas cylinders are potentially explosive, regardless of what they contain. Gas cylinder explosions are no joke”
Some basic points to observe:
- On receiving a gas cylindere, take a good look at it. Note anything suspicious, such as corrosion or the gas cylinder being improperly capped. Make sure to send any suspicious cylinders back
- Only order as many cylinders as you need at any one time. This includes back-ups for any gases that are in high use or take a long time to be delivered.
- Have a designated area for cylinders. Ideally, this should be a properly fire- and electricity proofed area.
- When you connect the cylinder, make sure you’re wearing eye protection – it’s not just the cylinder that can explode, but the regulator too. The ‘regulator’ what regulates the flow of gas from the cylinder.
- Close all valves on the cylinder before opening. Then open slowly. In my experience, there are two kinds of gas cylinder valves: wheel valves and SmartTop valves. Wheel valves are easier to control, but the ‘Smart top’ lever can be raised slowly for the same effect.
- Gas cylinders are not empty when they stop venting gas! This is one of the most overlooked things in cylinder safety – even when there isn’t enough pressure to supply your gas cylinder, a gas cylinder may still have enough pressure to cause and explosion. Don’t get caught like this – if at all possible, vent the last of the pressure in a controlled way, until the cylinder is completely empty.
- Get even the empties out as soon as possible. Metal cylinders can conduct electricity, so sparks can reach explosive gases even from cylinders that are completely empty.