1.1.11 Compressed gas cylinders

Many industrial and laboratory operations require the use of compressed gases for a variety of different operations.

Compressed gases present a unique hazard. Depending on the particular gas, there is a potential for simultaneous exposure to both mechanical and chemical hazards.

Gases may be:

  • Flammable or combustible
  • Explosive
  • Corrosive
  • Poisonous
  • Inert
  • A combination of hazards

If the gas is flammable, flash points lower than room temperature, compounded by high rates of diffusion present a danger of fire or explosion. Additional hazards of reactivity and toxicity of the gas, as well as asphyxiation, can be caused by high concentrations of even “harmless” gases such as nitrogen.

Since the gases are contained in heavy, highly pressurised metal containers, the large amount of potential energy resulting from compression of the gas makes the cylinder a potential rocket or fragmentation bomb.

The Risks

  A gas explosion at a restaurant in Qatar has killed 12 people, including two children, emergency services in the country said today. The blast happened shortly after 10am this morning at a Turkish restaurant near Landmark Mall in the capital Doha, and left 30 more people suffering serious injuries. Preliminary investigations suggest a faulty gas canister inside the restaurant may be to blame, with the explosion causing a fire that led to part of the building near a petrol station collapsing.  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2569231/Two-children-12-people-killed-gas-cylinder-explodes-Qatar-restaurant-opposite-petrol-station.html#ixzz3Gyb13g1m

Regulations

SAQCC – GAS Pressure Equipment Regulations (PER)

‘Pressure Equipment Regulations’ No. 734

Summary: The Minister of Labour published on 15th July 2009, an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1993 in respect of the ‘Pressure Equipment Regulations’ No. 734.

These regulations set out the requirements regarding the design, manufacture, operation, repair, modification, inspection and testing of pressure equipment with a design pressure equal to or greater than 50kPa, in terms of the relevant health and safety standard incorporated into the Regulations under section 44 of the Act.

In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, the Pressure Equipment Regulations require anyone working on a Gas system to undergo specific training and are registered with the South African Qualification and Certification Committee – Gas (SAQCC Gas) on behalf of the Department of Labour.

Regulation 1: Definitions

“Authorised Person” means… a person who is registered as competent within the scope of work for which an organisation [SAQCC Gas] approved by the chief inspector has registered that person.

Regulation 17: Gas reticulation equipment and systems

1.” No person shall

(a) handle, store or distribute any gas in any manner which includes the filling of a container, other than in accordance with the relevant health and safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act;

(b) install or remove an appliance, pressure equipment or system for gas in any manner other than in accordance with the relevant safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act;

c) install or remove a gas appliance, or a gas system or a gas reticulation system, unless such person is an authorised person; or

(d) use pressure equipment or systems for gas in an manner other than in accordance with the relevant safety standard incorporated into these regulations under section 44 of the Act

2. After installation or re-installation, and before commissioning a gas system, the user shall ensure that an external inspection and a leak test are performed by an authorised person or an approved inspection authority as applicable in terms of sub-regulation (1 )(c).

3. An authorised person or an approved inspection authority shall issue a certificate of conformity after completion of a gas installation, modification ,alteration or change of user or ownership in the form of Annexure 1.”

The Vessels under Pressure Regulation, 1996, published under Government Notice No. R. 1591, dated 4 October 1996, has been repealed by the PER.

The Pressure Equipment Regulations (PER) incorporate the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Standards and Codes of Practice relating to all Gases.

Transportable gas containers

 18.    (1)      No user shall use, require or permit a transportable gas container to be used, and no user shall fill, place in service, handle, modify, repair, inspect or test any transportable gas container, other than in compliance with the relevant standards incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act.

(2)      The inspection and test referred to in subregulation (1) shall be carried out by an approved testing station.

(3)      Applications for approval of a testing station shall include proof of accreditation as prescribed in subregulation (4), and shall include full contact details and address information.

(4)      The chief inspector’s approval is subject to a valid accreditation certificate issued by the accreditation authority: Provided that the chief inspector may set additional requirements before granting approval.

Fire extinguishers

19.     (1)      No user shall use, require or permit the use of a fire extinguisher unless designed, constructed, filled, recharged, reconditioned, modified, repaired, inspected or tested in accordance with the relevant safety standard incorporated into these Regulations under section 44 of the Act.

(2)      No person shall fill, recharge, recondition, modify, repair, inspect or test any fire extinguisher unless such person is an authorised person employed by a permit holder: Provided that a permit is issued by an organisation approved by the chief inspector.

 (3)     Applications for approval shall include proof of accreditation as prescribed in subregulation (4), and shall include full contact details and address information.

(4)      The chief inspector’s approval shall be subject to a valid accreditation certificate issued by the accreditation authority: Provided that the chief inspector may set additional requirements before granting approval.

Offences and penalties

20.     (1)      Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any of the provisions of regulations 3, 4, 5, 6, 7(1), 7(2), 8(1), 8(2), 8(3), 8(4), 8(5), 8(7), 9, 10, 11(1), 11(3), 12(2), 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18(1), 18(2), 19(1) and 19(2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months and, in the case of a continuous offence, to an additional fine of R200,00 for each day on which the offence continues or additional imprisonment of one day for each day on which the offence continues: Provided that the period of such additional imprisonment shall not exceed 90 days.