It may well be a daily occurrence in Cambodia, where small motor cycles are commonly used for deliveries – but the way these two young men are transporting gas bottles leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt? We highlight a case that underlines just that point, and explain how to go about safe storage of gas bottles.
When the site security man did a random check on a passing pickup truck he found that two acetylene gas cylinders had been casually tossed into the back, and were rolling around unrestrained.
The driver of the truck, and whoever had loaded it, was clearly playing with fire, oblivious of the potential for destruction offered by out-of-control gas cylinders on the move on their own.
The ‘casual’ loading of the cylinders was perhaps a reflection on how safe correct storage of gas bottles is; given the number of gas bottles stored by companies around the UK, it’s rare that we hear of incidents involving them.
And that’s precisely why it’s well worth highlighting the right way to store gas bottles; advice the young men in our picture would do well to heed. And these are our top 12 quick tips to help you do it properly and safely.
1. Keep them upright: Gas bottles should always be upright, and fixed so they can’t fall over. The exception to that rule is applications in which they’re designed to be horizontal, of which bottles on gas-powered fork-lift trucks are the obvious example.
2. Keep them outdoors wherever possible: Any leaks will be neutralised by the good ventilation. If they have to be indoors, they’ll need to be behind a wall with at least 30 minutes fire resistance, and be alive to a host of other restrictions.
3. Store them in a cool dry place: A shower of rain won’t harm them, but safe storage of gas bottles involves making sure they don’t stand in water. That can encourage corrosion, and damage the integrity of the bottles themselves, ultimately allowing the contents to escape. Make sure the base on which they stand is free draining. Equally, excessive heat can lead to explosion and fire, and the sun can be strong enough to cause problems, even in the UK. Make sure the bottles are shaded from the worst of the sun. Shade from buildings is effective, so long as creating that doesn’t cause other issues.
4. Tie them up: Gas bottles can be tall relative to the width of their bases, and they’re all heavy, making them vulnerable to being tipped up when knocked. The weight means they’re not straightforward to handle, so removing one from a store could touch others, and cause them to fall. Better to have them tied up securely to prevent that from happening.
5. Not too near the fence: No gas bottles should be stored within a metre of a boundary, but that’s a minimum distance. The larger the collection of bottles to be stored, the further the collection will need to be from the boundary.
6. Don’t overstock: Quite apart from tying up valuable finance, storing too much gas creates an unnecessary hazard for your company, its employees and visitors. Keep just what you need and no more. Reputable suppliers will be able to replenish stocks quite quickly.
7. Don’t tempt fate: Safe storage of gas bottles involves keeping them away from combustible materials, such as stocks of timber, vehicle fuel tanks, or waste skips. Good housekeeping would suggest that regular rubbish disposal is a responsible way to operate a business anyway, and storing gas bottles near timber, diesel, or anything else that can burn is just, well, adding fuel to any fire that might break out.
8. Out of harm’s way: Store gas bottles away from heavy traffic areas. Delivery vehicles or your company’s own vans and fork trucks and their loading and unloading activities could easily knock them over, breaking valves and allowing gas to escape, for instance. Remember Murphy’s Law; if something can go wrong, it will. Far better to make sure, through proper planning, that it can’t go wrong in the first place. Keep them away from pedestrian entrances, and from drains. Leaking gas could ‘run’ into a drain, and ultimately lead to explosion.
9. Don’t go underground: This is the same thought as gas escaping from undetected leaks finding its way into drains. Heavier-than-air gas can settle in enclosed underground spaces – the bilges of boats, especially pleasure cruisers, are the classic example.
10. Manage stock: Store full and empty cylinders separately (having discrete gas bottle storage cages helps with that), and rotate stock so the oldest cylinders are the first ones to be used.
11. Keep them apart: It’s good practice to keep cylinders of different kinds of gases in separate stores. Not only are they not good mixers with each other, but it reduces the risk of the wrong type of gas being used for any particular application. Human error causes accidents!
12. Get a gas bottle storage cage: A model from our range of stoutly-made gas bottle storage cages will cover a number of bases for safe storage of gas bottles. Made from robust welded mesh and powder coated, these UK-made cages come in a variety of sizes, capable of storing up to 30 bottles. They can even be supplied in a galvanised finish, should you require it. To boost their security, they are drilled for bolting to the floor, but for ease of delivery and moving through your site, they’re flat-packed, but come with all the necessary fittings for easy assembly. All the sizes and specifications are shown on the page at the link above – and all come with free UK delivery.