Gases have a variety of properties, many of which are hazardous, and therefore they are supplied and stored in containers specifically designed to keep them safe.

When being transported they have to comply with specific carriage of dangerous goods regulations, when in use they need specialist equipment to distribute them to their point of use, and all those handling and using gases need appropriate training to do so safely.

BCGA strongly recommend that you ensure that you understand the hazards associated with the specific gases being used and take all necessary safety measures to properly control the risks. On this website there is a lot of useful information to help you.

If you do have gases on your premises, or intend to use or transport them, please ensure that you have discussed this with your insurance providers and that you adequate cover in place.

I hold several gas cylinders. What do I have to do to store them safely?

There are four main principles to follow when storing any gas cylinders. They are:

  • Locate the store in an external area on your site;
  • Use a store that is secure;
  • Locate in an area that has plenty of natural ventilation;
  • Ensure there are no sources of ignition or combustible products that would provide fuel for a fire, in or close to the store.

Any site chosen to store gas cylinders should be subject to a risk assessment. BCGA provide advice on locating and managing stores in BCGA CP 44 The storage of gas cylinders.

Gas cylinders can be awkward to handle, do you have any advice for manual handling?

Gas cylinders come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weight. Before carrying out any handing activities it is necessary to carry out a risk assessment. Employers have a legal obligation under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (SI 1992 No. 2793) to make a sufficient and suitable assessment of the risk to employees from the manual handling of loads and to ensure all employees who handle gas cylinders have received appropriate training.

BCGA provide guidance in BCGA GN 3 Safe cylinder handling and the application of the manual handling operations regulations to gas cylinders. Additional guidance for conducting a risk assessment is provided in BCGA TIS 17 Model risk assessment for the manual handling of gas cylinders.

We use oxygen and acetylene welding equipment in our production department. Are there any inspection and maintenance activities I should be doing?

Welding equipment is designed to use a range of different gases under pressure. There are legal requirements within the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (SI 1998 No. 2306) and the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (SI 2000 No. 128) to ensure that work equipment is safe for use and is routinely inspected and maintained.

Specifically when using acetylene, there is a requirement to comply with the Acetylene Safety England, Wales and Scotland) Regulations (SI 2014 No. 1639) which, for example, mandates the use of Flash Back Arrestors.

BCGA CP 7 The safe use of oxy-fuel gas equipment (individual portable or mobile cylinder supply), sets out the minimum safety standards for the use, inspection and maintenance of oxy-fuel gas welding, cutting and heating equipment. Additional information on Welding Matters is also available.

I need to transport two small gas cylinders containing a calibration gas to many different sites across the UK. Are there any rules I need to follow?

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (SI 2009 No 1348) implement the European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), which provides a framework for dangerous goods to be carried internationally in road vehicles subject to compliance with standards for the packaging and labelling of the dangerous goods, and appropriate construction and operating standards for the vehicles and crew. Gases are classified as Class 2 dangerous goods.

Everyone carrying gas cylinders in a vehicle, in the course of their work, has to follow these basic legal safety requirements and, unless specifically exempted, has to comply with ADR. The driver of the vehicle is legally responsible for the safety of the vehicle and any load being carried. You should ensure that your insurance policy covers the carriage of gas cylinders on the vehicle.

BCGA GN 27 Guidance for the carriage of gas cylinders on vehicles, and BCGA L1 The carriage of small quantities of gas cylinders on vehicles, highlight the key safety and legal information necessary for drivers transporting gas cylinders in a vehicle whilst at work. This information is also valid when carrying small quantities of gas cylinders for personal, domestic, leisure or sporting use, but is not mandatory. Additional information on Transport Matters is also available.

We have a first aid section in our factory as some of our activities are hazardous. We would like to have some medical gases (such as a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen) available for emergency use. It is not an easy process to get a medical gas from the gas suppliers. Why?

All medical gases and some of the associated equipment used to administer medical gases are highly regulated by European Directives and UK legislation. The gases are classified as medicinal products for administration to a patient and the associated equipment is classified as a medical device when used to administer the gas.

Within in the UK there are several legal controls on the retail sale or supply of medicines which are set out in the Medicines Act 1968 as amended by the Human Medicines Regulation’s 2012. These controls apply to medicines sold or supplied by retail whether they are sold or supplied via internet transactions, by mail order, or any other form of supply. As well as the Medicines Act, some medicinal products are also listed as a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs act 1971. The supply of these drugs is also controlled by the Home Office, requiring the distributor to hold a Controlled Drug Licence. Additional controls over the use of certain medical gases are defined in the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

All gas suppliers will have internal procedures to follow to ensure that a medical gas is being provided to persons or establishments who have the necessary authority to prescribe or administer medicinal products. Before agreeing to supply a medical gas the gas supplier will want to carry out checks to determine how the product is to be used and by whom, and that there is an appropriately qualified individual who will take responsibility for the product and its use. You should not use medical gases unless you have had appropriate training and you are qualified to do so.

Additional information on Medical Gases is also available.

Are gases used in the food industry classified as ‘food’?

The Food Safety Act provides the framework for all food legislation in Great Britain. The Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents (England) Regulations implements Regulation EC 1333/2008 on food additives. Equivalent legislation is in place for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Food additives are substances that are not normally consumed as food itself but are added to food intentionally for a technological purpose as described in the Regulations. Regulation EC 1333/2008 identifies gases in Annex 1, paragraphs 20 (packaging gases) and 21 (propellant gases). EC Regulation (EU) No. 231/2012 laying down specifications for food additives listed in Annexes II and III of Regulation 1333/2008 was adopted on 9 March 2012 and is implemented in the UK by the Food Additives (England) (Amendment) and the Extraction of Solvents in Food (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2012. Equivalent legislation is in place for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The new Regulation consolidates and repeals the three previous purity criteria Directives. Food additives must comply with the approved specifications set out in EC Regulation (EU) No. 231/2012. The specifications comprise information, which adequately identifies the food additive, including origin and description of the manufacturing process, and establishes acceptable purity criteria for each additive, such as maximum limits for undesirable impurities. For example, carbon dioxide, the most common food gas used for beverage dispense, is listed as E290.

BCGA provide guidance in BCGA GN 14, Production, storage, transport and supply of gases for use in food. Additional information on Beverage Gases is also available.

Do  premises where food gases are filled need to identify themselves as a food  premises?  

Yes. The Food Premises (Registration) Regulations require the registration of all food premises with local authorities.

These Regulations set out the criteria for registration, the principal criterion being that the premises are used for the purposes of a food business on five or more days in any period of five weeks. Any premises which produces and/or fills gas cylinders for use with food or beverages will require registration.

BCGA provide guidance in BCGA GN 14, Production, storage, transport and supply of gases for use in food – Section 3.4. Additional information on Beverage Gases is also available.

 What are the additional requirements for labels on a gas cylinder containing a food gas?

Gas cylinders have to be marked and labelled in accordance with several Regulations, principally the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and the Use of Transportable Equipment Regulations (CDG/TPED which implements ADR) and the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP) Regulations.

Where the cylinder contains a food gas then addition information to be displayed includes:

  • The name of the food.
  • The name and/or E-number in respect of each food additive or a sales description which includes the name and/or E-number of each food additive
  • The statement ‘for food’ or the statement ‘restricted use in food’ or a more specific reference to its intended food use;
  • A lot (or batch) number.

BCGA provide guidance in BCGA GN 14, Production, storage, transport and supply of gases for use in food – Section 3.6. Additional information on Beverage Gases is also available.