Gas safety and pressure systems

What are pressure systems?

Pressurised systems are:

  • systems comprising one or more pressure vessels of rigid construction, any associated pipework and protective devices
  • the pipework with its protective devices to which a transportable pressure receptacle is, or is intended to be, connected
  • a pipeline and its protective devices
  • systems containing gases or fluids pressurised to 0.5 bar or more above atmosphere, or a gas dissolved under pressure in a solvent (acetylene)

Risk assessments

  • Any process that uses gas or a pressure system must be risk assessed.
  • Use of compressed gases must be covered by a risk assessment.
  • New users must be trained, and must read and sign the relevant risk assessment.
  • To handle, maintain and modify pressurised systems, such as moving and connecting compressed gas cylinders, you must have completed the required training and completed a separate risk assessments. 

If you hear an alarm

if an oxygen-depletion or toxic gas alarm sounds:

  1. Evacuate and secure the area
  2. Find a member of staff and tell them there is an alarm sounding
  3. Wait for the all-clear before re-entering the area

Identifying the risks

Pressurised gases present various hazards including:

Personal protective equipment

Always wear eye protection when working with compressed gases.

When moving compressed gases cylinders, wear a sturdy pair of shoes, ideally with a reinforced toe.

Storage and incompatibilities

The safe management of hazardous chemicals includes storing and using gases in an appropriate manner to reduce the risk of injury or physical damage resulting from reaction through incompatibility.

For instance, cylinders containing oxidising gases (eg, oxygen) and flammable gases (eg, hydrogen or propane) must not be stored in the same lab.

Some gases will have specific handling and storage requirements that should be detailed in your risk assessment. If in doubt, seek further information from your supervisor.

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