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While industrial and specialty gases have many wonderful uses, they can also bring new safety hazards to the workplace. Some of these hazards are highlighted below. It is important that any site using gases should plan to avoid these potential problems by implementing the correct training and procedures. Linde representatives can help you accomplish this.
Gases are often transported in high pressure cylinders. These cylinders all have a valve at the top to which is attached a regulator so that gas can be drawn off at desired rates. If a valve or regulator is struck and broken off of the cylinder, the cylinder will move violently depending on the remaining pressure. Also, the piping or vessels into which high pressure gas is introduced must be able to support such pressures or they could rupture violently.
A life supporting atmosphere should contain between 19% and 23% oxygen by volume. Some industrial gases are inert and can not be detected by any human sense. If these gases accumulate, a zone could be created that is outside of this life supporting range. Any person entering this zone could be endangered. Other gases may be toxic to breathe and doing so must also be avoided.
Liquid or cryogenic gases are extremely cold, reaching temperatures as low as -320°F for nitrogen. Human contact with such low temperatures results in immediate destruction of tissue or can cause severe frostbite.
Certain gases are flammable and when mixed with air or oxygen can become explosive in confined space and when ignited from any cause.
Some gases, like oxygen, are labeled as oxidizers. As concentrations of oxidizers rise above the normal 21% found in air, materials which normally do not burn in air may burn with explosive violence. And any fire, once started, may burn faster and hotter. The higher the oxidizer concentration, the greater the hazard.