How to Safely Store Gas Cylinders
Security, safety and organization are key
One of the more dangerous items that you’ll find at virtually every facility is the humble gas cylinder. In warehouses or manufacturing operations, you’ll find LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) canisters that power gas forklifts. You’ll also find vertical cylinders for welders, cutting torches, or other equipment operations. Too often, you will find them standing against a wall or on the dock with no protection at all.
Reduce replacement costs, work safer
This is a problem in both a safety and security sense, but there are other issues. Propane cylinders should be properly stored and handled in cylinder safety cages or cabinets to extend their life, and should be protected from being dropped or hit. Keep your tanks away from higher traffic areas if at all possible.
Aside from storing bottles safely, handling them with care can lengthen their useful life and prevent replacement costs. If a foot or neck ring becomes damaged, the cylinder may be ruined. LPG bottles that aren’t properly stored can suffer the same fate. When you transport bottles, they should be fixed in upright positions. Secure them to prevent rolling and bouncing.
Storing them away from liquids, puddles or water can help prevent rust, another long-term danger with propane bottles. If you see rust, remove it with a wire brush and repaint the area. The most common place rust is found is on the bottom of the cylinder and around the foot ring of the cylinder so it’s important to keep theses areas clean and painted.
Per OSHA regulations, tanks stored inside (such as in a warehouse or welding shop) can’t be stored near exits, stairways, or other points of access or exit. OSHA also requires that empty tanks be treated the same as full ones for safe storage purposes.
Types of gas cylinders
LPG tanks (above) for forklifts come in a variety of sizes, most commonly 20 and 33 pound fill sizes. When you specify a safety cabinet, know the diameter of your bottles so that you can correctly specify a storage option.
Compressed gas bottles (right) are typically used for welding, cutting, or other industrial operations. They are stored vertically, and often chained to a wall. It’s better to store these cylinders inside a protected barrier (such as inside steel guardrails) or inside a cage or safety cabinet to prevent accidents.
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Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Marketing Director with three decades of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. He writes on automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations.