5 Hazards of Transporting Gas Bottles

Aug 28, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

On a daily basis, dangerous gases are used by many people for a wide range of applications such as heating, welding, cutting and cooling.

As gas is an air-like substance, it will freely expand to fill any space, irrespective of its size. Gas must be put under immense pressure to be efficiently contained in a small space. To do this, gas suppliers force gas into pressurised vessels called gas bottles, which hold the gas in a liquefied from.

Even though this is an effective way of storing gas, there are a number of hazardous associated with transporting gas bottles, due to their high pressure and the dangerous properties of the gas stored in the bottle. The major hazards include: 

1. Extremely High Pressured Bottles

One of the major hazardous associated with transporting gas bottles is the level of pressure inside the vessel. A pressurised gas bottle is normally around 600-800 kPa, which is 3-4 times the pressure inside a car tyre. With such high pressure, the effects of a ruptured bottle or valve would be immense. In such an event, the gas bottle would turn into a flying projectile, which could cause a lot of property damage, severe injury or even death. A bottle could rupture if the vehicle carrying it becomes involved in an accident or if the bottle fell over from sudden change in direction.

2. Gas leakage

The dangerous properties of the gas stored inside the bottles is a major transport hazard. One group of gases that are significantly dangerous are class 2.1 Flammable Gases. Class 2.1 gases are highly flammable and only 10% of the air inside a vehicle needs to be contaminated with this gas to make an explosive mixture that would readily ignite in the presents of an ignition source. The most common causes of unexpected gas leakage in vehicles are:

  • Bottle valves not closed properly
  • Damaged/worn heating equipment still attached to the gas bottles
  • Old and brittle hose with unsealed fittings.

There have been a number of events where people have left gas bottles in their vehicles over-night. When they unlocked their vehicle in the morning, via smart lock or manually, it has activated an interior light which worked as an ignition source and caused a catastrophic explosion. These events have killed people and caused immense property damage.

3. Asphyxiation

There are a number of non-flammable, non-toxic gases that are frequently used for a range of manufacturing process. You may think that a non-flammable, non-toxic gas would be quite safe to transport, however there have been a number of catastrophic events which have proved them to be quite hazardous. The biggest risk associated with transporting non-flammable non-toxic gas is asphyxiation. If there is a slow leak in a gas bottle storing non-flammable non-toxic gas, it will slowly replace all of the oxygen in the air. Oxygen is the life supporting-component of air, and if it isn't present in the air, you will start to suffocate which can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

4. Vale Rupture

Another hazard that exist when transporting gas bottles, is the risk of the bottles toppling over. On the top of each gas bottle is the main valve which the regulator screws into. If the vehicle carrying the gas bottle suddenly stopped or had an accident, the bottles would fall over, increasing the risk of the valve rupturing. If the main valve ruptured, the gas inside the cylinder would rapidly disperse. This unsafe event would cause the gas bottle to become an uncontrollable projectile which could cause death and a lot of property damage.

5. Inhaling toxic/corrosive Gas

Toxic and corrosive gases are also relatively hazardous to transport. If a gas bottle storing toxic or corrosive gas leaked into the cab of a vehicle, it would have significant effects upon those inside the vehicle. These hazardous effects occur when a person inhales the gas or a significant amount comes into contact with their eyes or skin. Depending on the type and portion of toxic/corrosive gas inhaled, victims can experience a range of symptoms. These include:

  • Severe coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Acute airway and lung injury,
  • Death.

Some toxic and corrosive gases are colorless, odourless, non-irritating and produce no immediate symptoms. This means that you could start to become intoxicated by these dangerous gasses without realising.

There are also other corrosive gases, such as chlorine gas, which can send you unconscious after inhaling just a small quantity. If the chlorine gas continued to fill the atmosphere where you went unconscious, it would continue to intoxicate your system, resulting in death.

Therefore, when transporting toxic and corrosive gases, ensure that you take proactive measures to ensure that the gas bottle is sealed and restrained on the outside of the vehicle to minimise the risk of inhaling the gas.

Next Steps

If you require a safe method of transporting gas bottles, view our transportable gas bottle trolley which can be used to store and restrain gas bottles on the back of vehicles.

If you require more information on how to safely transport gas bottles, download our free checklist below. Click on the image to get started. đź‘‡

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Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Adviser. He loves helping businesses reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

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