Ensuring your gas cylinder store complies with WHS safety legislation in Australia

Oct 4, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

If your workplace stores compressed gases in cylinders you’ll need to follow the guidelines of AS4332-2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders to control all the hazards associated with the cylinders.

To do this effectively your organisation should use a risk management methodology to ensure that you understand each of the hazards and the risks they present to your operations. This blog introduces the STOREMASTA risk management methodology IDENTIFY - ASSESS - CONTROL - SUSTAIN, showing how each of the steps work to ensure your workplace is always compliant with Australian WHS safety legislation.

What is a risk management methodology?

Risk management is a step-by-step process that considers everything that could possibly go wrong at your worksite as well as the consequences of those dangerous events. Each dangerous event or hazard is carefully assessed and then control measures are introduced to reduce the likelihood the event occurring (or minimise the harm if it did).

The STOREMASTA risk management methodology has four steps to ensure that nothing gets missed, and nothing is left to chance. The whole process includes regular reviews to make sure that safety compliance is sustained.

Let’s take a closer look at the four steps which must be completed in order to guarantee each cylinder hazard is identified and suitable control measures implemented.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY cylinder hazards. How could people, property or the environment be harmed by the gases you use and the cylinders which house them?

STEP 2: ASSESS each of the hazards you identified in Step 1. Consult Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each of the gases and the relevant Australian Standards to learn if any of the hazards are knowns risks and have known control measures. Create a priority list based on the hazardous events most likely to occur and those that have the most serious consequences.

STEP 3: CONTROL each of the risks in the order of priority determined in Step 2. Use the hierarchy of controls to introduce suitable control measures for each of the hazards.

STEP 4: SUSTAIN compliance by documenting your actions and conducting regular reviews. Conduct another risk assessment to ensure no new hazards have been introduced (plus check if the control measures are actually working) and then regularly review the documentation as new gases are introduced to the workplace or changes are made to the layout or staffing levels.

Keeping your workplace compliant

To keep your workplace compliant with WHS safety legislation in Australia, you need to do more than just work through each of the steps in the methodology - once. Worksites are dynamic places and both operating methods and staff change regularly, so Step 4: SUSTAIN is critical for identifying those changes and maintaining compliance.

It’s essential to conduct a follow-up risk assessment to review the control measures you have implemented and make sure they are working. Your follow up risk assessment for the cylinder hazards at your worksite should consider:

  • Any new cylinder hazards introduced by the control measures
  • Any gas cylinders and hazards that were overlooked during your first risk assessment
  • If there has been a change in the number of safety incidents involving compressed gases
  • Whether staff are correctly handling the gas cylinders and using appropriate PPE

Additional risk assessments should also be conducted as changes are introduced to the workplace: things like a change in management, staff turnover, introducing new gases to the workplace, or using a new gas cylinder supplier.

Keeping records

Documenting the risk management process is an important part of sustaining compliance. Apart from having records on hand to demonstrate your WHS actions and the control measures you have introduced, good documentation allows you to:

  • Create a schedule for follow up risk assessments, WHS audits and cylinder maintenance.
  • Track the effectiveness of staff training and target key areas where staff need specialised training. For example if handling toxic and corrosive gases.
  • Easily review risks after changes to legislation, the supply chain, or the way gases are manufactured.
  • Quickly check all the gases, cylinder types, quantities and their locations at the worksite.
  • Monitor holding stocks of cylinders, so you can take action if they change the status of your workplace in or out of ‘minor storage’.**
  • **As cylinder quantities increase or decrease your responsibilities under AS4332-2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders can change. The Standard specifies a threshold known as ‘minor storage’ and once your cylinder quantities exceed this threshold different sections of the Standard will apply.

Next Steps

To learn how to implement a risk management methodology to control the hazards associated with the gas cylinders held at your worksite, we encourage you to download our free eBook Cylinder Storage: Compliance and safety requirements. It was researched and written primarily for WHS Managers and Supervisors responsible for managing the Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Chemicals at the worksite. Download it today by clicking on the image below:

gas cylinder storage: Compliance and safety requirements

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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