Handling and Stowage of Gas Cylinders

We received correspondence advising that the article in MFB 44 should have made better use of the advice given in The UK MCA’s Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers (COSWP – 2015 edition). We accept this comment and incorporate this additional safety information in conjunction with a report we received on the use of a home-made tool to lift gas cylinders.

What did the reporters tell us?

  • Multiple oxygen & acetylene cylinders should be segregated and stored in separate cages.
  • The cages should be locked for security (but with keys available locally in a break-glass box).
  • The gas stores should segregate each variety of gas and cylinder sizes.
  • The colour codes for the screwed caps on cylinders must follow the cylinder colour code.
  • Cylinders should be placed on wood and not directly onto a steel deck.
  • Cylinders should be individually secured, (with a quick release), to prevent any metal to metal contact.
  • There should be a bulkhead or a three-metre separation between oxygen and acetylene cylinder cages.
  • The gases should be identified by signage with a ‘Danger – No Smoking’ notice.
  • If in doubt refer to COSWP Chapter 24.8

We have since received a report whereby a ship was taking on board an acetylene cylinder. The cylinder arrived on a one sided protected pallet, not suitable for lifting. Since the vessel’s cylinder cage was located in the forward part of the vessel, the supervising officer decided to use an onboard fabricated lifting tool consisting of a U-clamp welded to a cylinder cap and then lifted it on board!  Fortunately there was no incident in this case but accidents involving gas cylinders can cause serious injury or even death.


CHIRP Suggests

The approved method for moving single oxy-acetylene cylinders is by a dedicated trolley. The use of a homemade tool to lift gas cylinders is not in compliance with the COSWP, nor does it indicate the existence of a robust safety culture on board. This activity should have been stopped.