Compressed gas cylinders are used in research labs across the globe, and they are used in abundance. When installed and handled correctly they can be a safe and reliable solution. When they are poorly treated, however, the lab is open to some safety risks.
We’ve examined seven safety issues that come with the presence of compressed gas cylinders in the lab and identified the ways that an on-site gas generator can help you overcome these issues.
1. Cylinders not secured properly
A cylinder needs to be supported above its midpoint – 70-80% of the height of the cylinder is usually a good benchmark for this support. The cylinder needs to be supported on something that is fixed such as a wall or a bench; the support should be strong enough to hold the cylinder and it should not be fixed to another cylinder.
If you have multiple cylinders secured by a single support point, these can easily injure lab staff when this support is removed.
A gas generator, on the other hand, does not need to be secured. It can be placed next to your instrument or even moved around the lab on the attached wheels if you need to safely move your gas supply. By having an on-demand gas generator in your lab, you are removing the need to switch cylinders which also removes the hazards associated with the job of replacing gas cylinders when the supply runs out.
2. Failing to separate incompatible gas cylinders
The Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG Code) states that Class 2.1 Flammable Gases must be segregated by at least 3 metres from Class 2.2 (5.1) Non-Flammable, Oxidising Gases and Class 2.3 Toxic Gases. These concerns are, again, rectified where a gas generator can be used as an alternative source of gas.
By introducing the use of a gas generator to the lab you are removing the need for gas cylinders which, in turn, removes the need for separating the incompatible gas cylinders.
3. Not having a plan in place to deal with leaking gas cylinders
Labs should always have an emergency plan in place if compressed gases are stored or handled. This could be different from lab to lab, depending on the type of gas that is used, but all scenarios should be carefully evaluated, and a plan should be in place before a critical incident occurs.
PEAK’s range of on-site gas generators come with built in safety features which include internal and external leak detection, auto shutdown features and alarm functionality which kicks in in the event of a gas leak. With these safety factors present in the generators from the point of installation, you already have the peace of mind built into the generator should anything go wrong, removing any uncertainty in the event of a leak.
4. Unsafe hose length used to connect equipment
Cylinders will always need some level of flexibility in the piping for re-positioning after changing out the empty cylinders. However, it is much safer to keep this piping as short as possible – no more than 3 feet.
The benefit of having a gas generator is you no longer need to change cylinders because your lab gas is produced on demand.
5. Failing to consider the effects of a leak in small areas
While most labs are well ventilated, toxic gas leaks can result in extremely hazardous areas. Flammable and explosive gases can create an atmosphere that is considerably higher than the lower explosive limit and this is why risk assessments should carefully evaluate the effects of leaks and failures in the lab.
Given the shortage of space in many research laboratories, gas cylinders are often placed in areas with little or no ventilation system.
Similar to labs that don’t develop a procedure to handle a leak before it occurs, not considering the effects of a major leak in a smaller area can also benefit from the built-in safety features of a gas generator.
A PEAK gas generator has a maximum flow rate and output pressure which can provide you with peace of mind when it comes to potential leaks. Considering the differences in pressure between pressurized gas cylinders and a gas generator it would take considerably longer for your lab personnel to be affected by the results of a gas leak.
6. Running hazardous gas lines in unventilated parts of the lab
Gas lines should never be piped in poorly ventilated locations, whether that is above a suspended ceiling or through an unventilated area. The piping should be run in a ventilated laboratory or outside the building and directly into the instrument.
Many gas generators have a relatively small footprint and, for the most part, can be situated next to or beneath the equipment it is used to supply. By using the generator next to the instrument, you are removing the need for unsafe lines from the gas source to your instrument. By removing the unsafe line, you are removing the number of points where a safety risk can occur.
Gas Generator Solution
Gas cylinders are commonplace in many labs around the world and, because lab staff are so used to seeing them, the safety risks are sometimes forgotten or not considered at all. There are many ways that gas cylinders can have a negative impact on the safety of lab personnel, but there are alternatives that you can use to avoid these concerns.
By removing cylinders from the lab, you are not only improving the safety of the lab, you are also removing the requirements that come with having cylinders in the lab. Aspects like safety training of new staff and annual refresher for current staff and manual handling training all have an impact on the lab over time and take your personnel away from the job they should be doing.
Gas generators have several built-in safety features, they are portable and allow labs to streamline their practices. With one simple switch, labs can remove many health and safety risks while also making life in the lab easier for everyone.
Contact us to learn more about our gas generator solutions.
Written by: Peak Scientific