5 Staff Training Essentials For Handling Gas Bottles Correctly

Dec 27, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

Effective safety training is critical to workplace safety at worksites that store and handle Dangerous Goods. In this blog we are focusing on gas bottles, and the essential training requirements outlined in Australian Standard AS4332-2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders.

1. Safety Inductions

Induction training is the foundation to ensuring that your employees, contractors and their staff, as well as site visitors all understand the risks and hazards they are likely to encounter while on your premises.

Even though the Standard doesn’t specifically mention induction training, it does require that staff and contractors understand the:

  1. Safety rules of the site, including restricted areas, safe access points/exits, prohibited activities (smoking etc) and the personal protective equipment they are required to use.
  2. Hazards associated with the gas cylinders likely to be encountered on the premises.
  3. Emergency evacuation procedures.
  4. Conditions and obligations of contractor’s work permits, especially confined space entry

An effective safety induction will cover all these areas, plus include a full site walk around pointing out the location of Dangerous Goods as well as the emergency exits and evacuation points. Safety Inductions should be conducted before entry to the worksite and considered awareness training only — they must be followed up with comprehensive job training as appropriate to the specific tasks being performed.

2. Hazard Training

The Australian Standard requires that all personnel handling gas cylinders must fully understand the chemical properties and physiochemical hazards of each specific gas they are using. They must be introduced to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each gas and understand how they could personally be harmed. Depending on the gas, the training would cover:

  • Exposure injuries from toxic and corrosive gases
  • Asphyxiation hazards
  • Frostbite and cold burn injuries from liquefied gases
  • Fires and explosions caused by ignited flammable gases,
  • Spontaneous combustion inspired by oxidisers and self-reactive gases
  • Violent chemical reactions from incompatible substances
  • Explosions from overheated cylinders
  • Different types of manual handling injuries
  • Impact injuries from out-of-control cylinders

Hazard training can be introduced in a safety induction and then followed up during formal training sessions or on-the-job tool box talks. During this training your staff must understand the applicable safety regulations and safe handling procedures.

3. Job Knowledge

Once staff understand the chemical properties and hazards associated with each of the gases and cylinders being handled, the Standard also requires they be given specific manual handling instructions so they know what to do when moving, changing, or unloading gas cylinders. This will include instructions for:

  • Always using trolleys and mechanical lifting devices
  • Making sure cylinders are always upright
  • Individually restraining cylinders with a safety strap or chain
  • Work methods prohibited under the Standard eg, carrying cylinders by the valve, dropping cylinders from a truck,  rolling cylinders along the ground.
  • Using PPE correctly (plus care and maintenance)

Using PPE is especially important, because staff may need eye protection, safety footwear, overalls, protective gloves, and hearing protection. Training staff to use PPE correctly involves demonstration, then providing ongoing supervision to ensure they are not only competent, but consistently use the PPE every time they handle gas cylinders.

4. Emergency Procedures

Everyone onsite needs to know what to do in an emergency. And for worksites that use and store  compressed gases in cylinders, emergency training begins on-the-job. Staff need to know how to respond to gas leaks or dropped cylinders, the location of first aid equipment and safety showers, plus who to notify and how. When dealing with a cylinder leak of a class 2.3 toxic gas, staff may need to be trained to safely use and wear self-contained breathing apparatus.

Emergency procedures will always be driven by your risk assessment and include a response to worst-case scenario events like fires, explosions and release of toxic gas clouds. Managers and supervisors need to know how to work with emergency responders and fire crews, and understand their responsibilities in handing over the manifest of Dangerous Goods (which will include the location and quantities of all the gas cylinders onsite).

Manager and supervisors also need to ensure the safety of their workers, and regular response and evacuation drills help reinforce these responsibilities and get everyone understanding their individual roles. Who needs to apply first aid, who needs to direct evacuating staff, and who needs to follow instructions and get clear.

5. Retraining

The Standard is very clear that safety training must be ongoing — it is not enough to put a staff member through an induction once and expect they will always know what to do. You must also ensure that staff are retrained whenever:

  • Work or safety procedures change
  • Staff demonstrate substandard performance.
  • Staff have spent time away from their regular duties (maternity leave, injury, site transfer).

A commitment to ongoing training requires diligent managers and adequate supervision. And even though not mentioned in the Standard, staff training may also be necessary after a near-miss or critical incident involving gas cylinders.

Next Steps

If you handle and store gas bottles at your worksite we strongly recommend you download our free eBook Gas Cylinder Storage: Compliance and safety requirements. This eBook outlines the requirements of AS4332-2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders and outline how to manage risk at your workplace. Download it now 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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