Safe Use of Oxy-Fuel Equipment
Almost every workshop has an oxy-fuel gas trolley somewhere in an often forgotten corner. The equipment has many uses- welding, cutting, heating, straightening, and descaling and as it is versatile, easy to move about and relatively inexpensive, it is used widely throughout our industry. It is so widely used that sometimes people forget about the dangers and it is important to remember that many people are injured and some killed each year by the incorrect or careless use of oxy/fuel gas equipment.
There are a number of precautions you can take to reduce the probability of a fire and explosion occurring including carrying out the work in a safe location, remove any combustible materials, ventilate closed spaces such as pits, keep fire extinguishers nearby, not using the equipment on flammable tanks/drums or welding wheels without removing the tyre.
Another method of keeping staff safe is regular servicing of the equipment. It is also a legal requirement to ensure that gas equipment used in the workplace is in a safe condition, well maintained and inspected regularly where required. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations requires that employers must put control measures in place to eliminate risks from dangerous substances or reduce them as far as is reasonably practicable.
The British Compressed Gases Association’s (BCGA) Code of Practice 7 (CP7 - the safe use of oxy-fuel gas equipment) and Guidance Notes 7 (GN7 - the safe use of individual portable or mobile cylinder gas supply equipment) recommend that regulators and flashback arrestors are checked annually and replaced every five years or on the manufacturers recommendation.
Checks need to be undertaken by a person who has sufficient practical experience of oxy-fuel gas equipment and theoretical knowledge of the functioning of the equipment, the properties of gases used, the potential defects and hazards that may occur and their importance to the integrity and safety of the equipment.
Visual checks and leak tests have to be carried out each time the equipment is connected or used and more thorough functional tests have to be carried out at least on an annual basis. As mentioned, it is the duty of the employer to ensure persons undertaking maintenance activities are adequately trained and to establish competency. All training should be formally recorded. Periodic retraining is strongly recommended.
If you need further advice you can call the direct member helpline or 0845 305 4230.