Careful risk assessment and diligent emergency planning is required to minimise the risk of harm to workers or other personnel encountering gas cylinders at your worksite. This post provides an introduction of the emergency planning process for gas cylinder stores, based on the requirements of Section 6 of AS 4332 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders.

Gas Cylinders Present an Emergency If They

If not handled or stored in the correct way, your gas cylinders may create an environment which leads to an emergency situation. Even the position in which you locate gas cylinders can affect the risk that these dangerous goods pose.

Some hazards related to Class 2 gases may include:

  • Fire due to leaks or accidental releases with flammable gas cylinders
  • Chemical reactions with incompatible gases or chemicals
  • Asphyxiation due to gas leaks of gases including methane or nitrogen
  • Poisoning with toxic gases
  • Explosive atmosphere if ignition occurs with gases such as butane or propane
  • Gas cylinders becoming projectiles, causing damage to people and property

However, when planning for an emergency, it’s imperative to consider a range of factors including:

  • Design and layout of gas cylinder storage and handling areas
  • Diligent operating practices
  • Sufficient staff training and instruction

To fully control the risks associated with the gas cylinders, you first need to understand what gases are present in your business — and what hazards (and level of risk) they present to your organisation.

Safe Workplace Design

Emergency planning always begins with preventative measures.

You’ll conduct a thorough risk assessment which identifies the hazards presents at the workplace and the severity of dangerous incidents likely (or even possible) of occurring.

When gas cylinders are present at the workplace, you’ll be listing each and every cylinder on site, what it contains, where it is stored, and how it is handled.

Now with a list of possible dangerous incidents involving gas cylinders, you will begin introducing control measures to reduce the likelihood of those incidents occurring (or minimise the harm if they do).

How to Control Risk of Emergency Situation with Gas Cylinders

Some known control measures for gas cylinder stores and handling areas include:

1. Gas Cylinder Stores

The way you store your cylinders contributes to safe workplace design. Wherever possible, locate gas cylinders outside. This will reduce the likelihood and impact of gas leaks, which can lead to emergency situations such as fires, asphyxiation, chemical reactions and other hazards.

Storemasta recommends that you store gas cylinders in a heavy duty gas bottle cage with bump rails, restraint bars and security chains.

The Australian Standard AS 4332 offers requirements about the design and construction of gas cylinder stores, as well as requirements on where to locate gas cylinders.

The requirements include storing gas cylinders:

  • On the ground floor
  • At least 3 metres from combustibles, vegetation, and refuse
  • At least 1 metre from building openings (doors, windows, vents, ducting)
  • Away from ignition sources and anything that produces radiant heat

Gas cylinder stores must be:

  • Constructed so that the cylinders are always upright, restrained, and protected from impact
  • Constructed from non-combustible materials
  • Fenced and secured against unauthorised access

Flammable Gas Cylinder Store

Avoid storing gas cylinders indoors, near incompatible substances, sources of heat and ignition sources.

2. First Aid Stations

Setting up first aid stations near your gas cylinder stores is essential.

The first aid stations must be in a clean area and contain all the equipment necessary to respond to a dangerous incident involving compressed gases and cylinders.

Depending on the types of gases used at the workplace, your first aid station may require:

  • Safety showers: a clearly identified safety shower activated by a single-action, delivering a consistent flow of water. The safety shower should be easily accessed in an emergency and be wide enough so the water contacts the entire body.
  • Eye wash stations: a highly visible eye wash station, easily accessed in a chemical emergency. The eye wash station should deliver a soft (and consistent) flow of water to both eyes at the same time.
  • Emergency PPE: depending on the gases used you may require emergency PPE eg, face masks and self-contained breathing apparatus. PPE should be stored in a secure area but still be easily accessible to workers in an emergency.
  • Register of hazardous chemicals: a list of all the gases in the work area including the Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each. The register must be able to be accessed quickly.

 3. Warning Placards

Ensure your gas cylinder stores and handling areas have correct warning placards and precautionary signs.

These will include at a minimum:



You’ll also need the relevant dangerous goods labels for each hazard class:

  • Class 2.1 Flammable Gas
  • Class 2.2 Non-Flammable, Non-Toxic Gas
  • Class 2.2/5.1 Oxidizing Gas
  • Class 2.3 Toxic Gas

LP gas bottle store outside

Gas stores must be marked with the relevant dangerous goods signage and hazard signage.

4. Other Control Measures

Depending on the size of the workplace — plus the amount and type of gases being used— your workplace design might also consider:

  • Installing alarms connected directly to emergency services
  • Improving access routes for fire trucks and their firefighting equipment
  • How you will contain any leaks, spills, fire hose run-off
  • When you will place your emergency plan and manifest of hazardous chemicals

Emergency Response Plan

A detailed plan for combatting emergencies needs to be prepared in consultation with emergency services, gas suppliers, and relevant regulatory authorities.

The depth of your emergency plan will depend on several factors including:

  • The types of gases being used and in what quantities
  • Whether toxic and corrosive gases are present onsite
  • The potential for fires and explosions
  • The size of the worksite and how many workers or personnel could be affected
  • The proximity of adjacent properties and any environmental concerns
  • Ease of access by emergency services, as well as response times to isolated worksites

REMEMBER: Your emergency plan should consider incidents including the release of gases, fire and explosion. It should be appropriate for the size and complexity of your operations, and be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure efficacy.

Manifest of Hazardous Chemicals for Gas Cylinder Storage

Accompanying your emergency response plan, you’ll also require a manifest of hazardous chemicals.

Your manifest is a written summary of the hazardous chemicals (including cylinders types, quantities and locations) at the worksite.

The manifest is created specifically for emergency responders and the plan should be lodged (along with the Emergency Response Plan) with your emergency services provider.

The emergency response plan and the manifest of hazardous chemicals must be reviewed (at a minimum) and updated whenever:

  • New gases are introduced to the workplace or job site
  • Gas quantities increase or decrease and change the level of risk
  • Changes in management or significant staff turnover
  • The layout or storage areas on the job site change
  • Notifications from the supplier about a change to the chemical properties of the gases or the physical properties of the cylinders
  • Near misses, safety incidents or observation that staff are not following safety procedures.

IMPORTANT: Always check the WHS Regulation in your state and territory for full details on preparing your Manifest of Hazardous Chemicals.

Staff Induction and Training

Staff training is an essential requirement for gas cylinders and an important factor in emergency planning.

All personnel likely to be involved in an emergency need to be familiar with the contents of the Emergency Plan as well as understand their role when responding to a dangerous incident.

Depending on their job role, the training could include:

  • Investigating unsafe gas level alarms
  • Responding to gas leaks
  • How to use emergency response PPE
  • First aid response following exposure to toxic or corrosive gases (helping co-workers or treating themselves)
  • Location of hazardous chemicals register and manifest
  • How to operate safety showers and eye wash stations
  • Response to fires and explosions
  • Location of firefighting equipment and how to use it
  • What to do with dropped, heated or damaged cylinders
  • Emergency evacuation points and muster stations

IMPORTANT: Staff training must be ongoing. Each staff member must also be supervised and monitored to ensure they are following safety instructions correctly.

Preventing a Gas Cylinder Emergency

For more detailed information about how to manage the risks and hazards associated with the gas cylinders, please download our free eBook Gas Cylinder Storage: Compliance and safety requirements. The eBook introduces the risk management and planning process by applying real examples of gas cylinder hazards and safety incidents to a tested methodology. Read it today and learn how to control the cylinder risks at your own workplace.

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