Basic Gas Cylinder Safety Tips for Welders
Baker’s Gas and Welding handles gas tanks every day in all of our locations, and we have seen all kinds of cylinders come into our shops to be refilled. Some are well-maintained and regularly tested, while others are a catastrophe waiting to happen. Here are a few gas cylinder safety guidelines to consider for your own welding shop that will give you an idea of how to manage your own cylinders:
Disclaimer: Before handling your own gas cylinders orsetting up safety policies, consult local experts and specific guidelines for your own tanks.
General Gas Cylinder Safety
When working with a gas cylinder, a few basic precautions can ensure your safety on the job site or in your home welding shop. Ensure that your valve is completely closed as soon as you’re done using your cylinder, and never store your cylinders on their sides or on an angle. Avoid extreme weather, especially higher temperatures that can push the tank pressure beyond safe limits.
How to Spot a Damaged Gas Cylinder
There are many signs of wear and damage on oxygen tank that could be a safety concern. Look for cracks, dents, leaks, bulges, corrosion, or rust that could show a tank is either leaking or on the verge of leaking.
Check the values and other safety devices for wear or signs of being defective. In addition, more extreme issues such as heat or fire damage from a particular job should throw up a red flag. If you suspect a tank is defective, consult your local dealer to ensure it is properly taken care of before getting to work.
The Main Differences Between Cylinder Types
Cylinders are often made of steel or aluminum. While steel is a cheaper option, it will be significantly heavier and that could be a safety issue for handling it in a mobile welding business or if you don’t have a proper cart for storing and transporting it.
On the other hand, aluminum cylinders make up for their higher cost by being lighter to handle and more resistant to rust and corrosion when compared to steel. If you’re working with wet gases or in a humid environment, aluminum can be a real plus for welders.
When to Test Your Gas Cylinder
Cylinders are often tested once every five years, although some tanks can be marked by inspectors for inspection every five years. A Five-pointed star typically indicates whether or not a cylinder can be tested every ten years.
Testing Your Gas Cylinder for Safety Concerns
A hydrostatic test measures how a gas cylinder performs under pressure by applying five-thirds the operating pressure to cylinder in question, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer. For instance, a 4,500-pound-per-square-inch (psi) cylinder would be tested at 7,500 pounds psi. The water jacket method of testing encloses the cylinder in a high pressure jacket enclosure.
When the gas in a cylinder isn’t oxygen, such as liquefied petroleum gas, the testing procedures will be different and may only be required 7-12 years, depending on the state of the tank.
What do the Markings Mean on Gas Cylinders?
Gas cylinders typically have markings that are vertically or horizontally aligned and that offer critical information about the cylinder, how to fill it, when it was last inspected, and when it should be inspected again. Oxygen cylinders are usually green and have information stamped toward the top. According to an example from the U.S. Army, the markings can be read in the following way:
- DOT = Department of Transportation
- 3AA = Seamless alloy-steel cylinder
- 2015 = 2015 psig fill pressure
- 1234567 = Serial number of cylinder
- XY Corp = Manufacture of cylinder
- 8 ® 08 = Month and Year, in this example, August 2008, the symbol of the inspector is commonly placed between month and year (® used as example only)
- + = Cylinder maximum fill pressure can be 10% above 2015 psig or 2216.5 psig
- ۞ = Cylinder may be tested every 10 years versus the standard 5 years
Keep in mind that a cylinder past its hydrostatic test date can still be used, whether it is full or partially full. Experts recommend using the gas cylinder until it is empty and then having it retested before filling it again.
Learn More about Gas Cylinders at Baker’s Gas and Welding
Baker’s Gas and Welding has all of the regulators, carts, torches, and metalworking supplies you’ll need for your shop, as well as expertise on everything you could even want to know about gas cylinder safety. If you are local to Michigan or Ohio find a location near you!