Compressed and liquefied gases are potentially hazardous for the following reasons:
- The gas pressure is very high, and a ruptured cylinder or valve can cause serious injury or damage
- Heat may cause any safety device fitted to operate and release contents
- When a liquefied gas is released, it vaporises and creates large amounts of gas
- Cryogenic liquids are very cold and can cause severe cold skin burns and brittle fracture of materials
- Some gases are very flammable, and any leakage can create an explosive atmosphere in a vehicle
- Oxygen enrichment causes material to ignite easily and will increase the intensity of the fire. Nitrous oxide has similar properties.
- Inert gases can cause oxygen deficiency and asphyxiation Toxic or corrosive gases are hazardous to health
- Toxic or corrosive gases are hazardous to health
- Due to their size, weight and shape, moving gas cylinders creates manual handling risks.
Caution: Unrestrained or inadequately restrained cylinders pose a risk to people and/or damage to vehicles due to the hazards outlined above. When transporting gas cylinders always ensure that they are adequately restrained.
Information on the hazards can be found on the cylinder label, and in the Material Safety Data Sheet that is freely available from your gas supplier.
The safest and recommended method for transporting cylinders (e.g. gas cylinders and cryogenic receptacles) is by using the transport services provided by your gas supplier. Occasionally, there may be a need to use other transport methods in which case it is then essential to follow safety instructions for full and empty gas cylinders:
- Restrain all cylinders against moving during transport (consider the forces generated in a traffic accident);
- Always transport liquefied, refrigerated and flammable gas cylinders in an upright position;
- Limit the number of cylinders to be transported;
- Use open vehicles or trailers in preference to any enclosed vehicles or trailers. Do not cover the gas cylinders with a tarpaulin;
- Ensure that the contents label on the cylinder can be clearly read;
- Never drop gas cylinders, or submit them to shock;
- Where possible, use mechanical lifting devices and trolleys to move gas cylinders;
- Wear safety shoes or boots and leather protective gloves when handling gas cylinders, consider the need for safety glasses or goggles;
- Smoking is strictly forbidden when loading, transporting, and unloading any gas cylinder.
Ventilation is the key to reducing the risk of a fire or explosion.
Further information on the general safety requirements for the transport of gases can be found in this ANZIGA Safety Advice.