Medical Gas Safety — How to Handle Oxygen Cylinders and Other Dangerous Gases Properly

Feb 24, 2022

Medical Gas Safety — How to Handle Oxygen Cylinders and Other Dangerous Gases Properly

Medical gas is any gas that is intended for patient use. Oxygen is the most widely used medical gas for residential and commercial purposes. However, medical professionals may also use nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, etc.

While medical gases are safe when used properly, they can be dangerous if not handled correctly. If you have access to gas cylinders in your home or at work, it is important to understand how to handle the cylinders safely. This will help prevent property damage, injuries and fatalities.

The hazards of gas cylinders

Medical gas cylinders are very heavy and contain contents that are under a large amount of pressure. This means that improper handling is likely to cause a serious accident. A damaged cylinder can quickly turn into a violent projectile.

Additionally, different gases can also present unique risks. Medical oxygen, for example, is extremely flammable and must be kept away from combustible materials and heat sources. Other medical gases may cause asphyxiation, embolism, poisoning or frostbite.

Maintaining the proper safety standards can help prevent:

  • Injuries caused by impact with a cylinder
  • Explosions and fires
  • Exposure to dangerous medical gases
  • Handling injuries
  • Property damage

 

Medical oxygen cylinder safety: How to use medical gas cylinders safely

Oxygen cylinder safety should be a priority. This is true whether you’re an at-home patient completing oxygen therapy or a medical professional in a hospital setting. To handle medical oxygen and other medical gases safely, we recommend following these general guidelines.

For general handling:

  • Don’t drop or knock the cylinder into anything.
  • Keep the area around the cylinder well-ventilated and unobstructed.
  • Ensure that all tubes and other equipment items are properly connected and do not become entrapped.
  • Keep cylinders away from any heat sources or combustible materials.
  • Prevent cylinders from falling over by supporting them while they are in use.
  • Store empty and full cylinders appropriately (i.e., clearly separated from each other).
  • Do not smoke or allow smoking near the cylinder.
  • Always be aware of your cylinder; listen for sounds of leaking gas and inspect regularly for signs of damage.

When opening or closing the cylinder:

  • Never force the valves or use tools to force the valves open or close.
  • Make sure the cylinder outlet is clean before opening.
  • Use the appropriate regulator and medical equipment for your cylinder.
  • Ensure all equipment is attached properly and securely.
  • Open the cylinder slowly and carefully.
  • Close the cylinder immediately after you’re done using it.

During cylinder transportation:

  • Ensure the vehicle has good ventilation.
  • Do not use the cylinder in an enclosed space.
  • Whether transporting a cylinder vertically or horizontally, ensure that it is secured.
  • Keep all valves closed while moving or transporting the cylinder.
  • Use a dolly, cart or other appropriate equipment when moving the cylinder, even if it is a short distance.


Medical gas safety at home

If you require supplemental oxygen therapy at home, it is important to adhere to the above medical oxygen safety tips. There are also several important safety guidelines that you must be aware of when handling oxygen in your home.

First, remember that supplemental oxygen is a prescription. It should never be increased or decreased without a doctor’s explicit instruction. When handling oxygen at home, it is of vital importance to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Second, you must be responsible for ensuring that your cylinder is safe to use and that it is used safely. If you ever believe that your cylinder is leaking, contact your cylinder provider immediately. Do the same if the cylinder is ever damaged.

Medical gas safety in hospitals

Medical centres handle a variety of gases, which means that these areas must adhere to additional safety precautions. Medical personnel should always:

  • Check the cylinder label to ensure the proper medical gas is being used.
  • Transport medical cylinders carefully using the appropriate PPE and carts.
  • Ensure the medical gas storage areas are clean, well-ventilated and well-maintained.
  • Keep the appropriate signs displayed in storage areas and throughout the facility.

Learn more about medical gas safety and storage from Mega Medical

If you are searching for more in-depth information regarding medical gas storage, please visit the Mega Medical site or reach out to our team. We can assist with questions about medical oxygen cylinder safety or regarding our medical equipment. Call us today on 1300 881 824.

Sources

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/ckr-ext/Dcmnt?ncid=521117400
https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/oxygen-cylinder-safety
https://www.patientsafety.va.gov/professionals/hazards/oxygen.asp
https://www.nfpa.org/~/media/4B6B534171E04E369864672EBB319C4F.pdf