New guidelines for safe use of medical oxygen cylinders

3 October 2019

WorkSafe this week issued a safety alert regarding the safe handling and use of medical oxygen cylinders. The alert comes after an incident in July where two workers were injured during a lifeguard training session.

A new C-size medical oxygen cylinder was being fitted to an Oxy-Viva set, and a worker ‘cracked’ the cylinder (the valve was opened slightly then closed again, on the basis that this removes contaminants from the cylinder outlet).

The worker lost control of the cylinder and as it hit the ground the valve spindle broke off leaving a short stub. The stub cut a gouge in a person’s leg before the cylinder travelled further, breaking another person’s leg and toes.

Workplace procedures supported cracking of cylinders; however, the cylinder was not secured or restrained in a cradle or support frame and was cracked prior to the regulator being fitted. The valve may also have been cracked too far, as there is no indication of how far it should be turned when cracking.

Due to these contributing factors, and the valve being located at the side, the cylinder was able to travel several metres in an unpredictable manner due to the pressure of the released gas.

Oxygen cylinders should not be ‘cracked’

ACTION REQUIRED: Workplace procedures and training information regarding oxygen cylinders should be updated to reflect the following

  • Read the supplier’s instructions for all gas products carefully

  • Comply with the supplier’s instructions

  • Do NOT crack the cylinder, or open the valve before the regulator has been fitted to the cylinder

  • If difficulties occur when fitting the regulator to the cylinder, or if further information is required, contact the cylinder supplier and regulator supplier before acting. There could be an equipment mismatch or damage to locator pins, so it is important to identify the problem rather than apply force.

You can download the official Safety Alert at the link below.

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