Safe Handling of Compressed Gases in the Laboratory and Plant: Part I By MATHESON September/October 2011
Basic information that anyone handling compressed gas should know.
Before we are allowed to drive a car, most states require proof of our ability to drive. To become a proficient and safe driver, one must have skill, judgment, and driver education. We do not always consider that we are performing a hazardous operation by driving a car; yet the fact remains that many people are killed or hurt every day as a result of carelessness in handling this machine. Although the safety record of the compressed gas industry is excellent, the questions raised by the users of gas products, and the accidents involving these same users, show that many of them have neither learned nor applied the safety measures that would earn them their “license” for handling compressed gas. When handled by personnel who are properly trained and aware of the potential hazards, compressed gases are as safe to work with as most of the ordinary chemical liquids and solids normally handled on a routine basis in any laboratory or plant.
A compressed gas is defined by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as “any material or mixture which exerts in the packaging an absolute pressure of 280 kPa (40.6 psia) or greater at 20°C (68°F).”1