Cylinder Testing

Gas cylinders contain large amounts of stored energy. It is mandatory that they are made to appropriate standards and are then periodically inspected and tested to ensure the safety of those who transport, fill and use them.

All gas cylinders used for the transport of gases by road in the UK are subject to statutory legislation. Specifically The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations which implements the Agreement concerning the International Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).

ADR requires that gas cylinders are inspected and tested on a periodic basis.

Inspection

An inspection is a formal examination of the gas cylinder and its valve.

An inspection is carried out at various times during the life of a cylinder. Each cylinder is given an initial inspection and test at the time of manufacture, inspections are carried out each time the cylinder is filled and a periodic inspection and test is carried out at set frequencies or when routine inspection determines a need.

The inspection provides assurance that each cylinder is fit for purpose and remains safe for continued use. The inspection periodicity is laid down in ADR, Packing Instruction P200.

Initial and periodic inspection and testing can only be carried out by an Inspection Body authorised by the National Competent Authority. In the UK the Competent Authority is the Secretary of State for Transport, within the Department for Transport (DfT). The DfT has set up a scheme to appointment Inspection Bodies in order to meet these obligations. The scheme is operated by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), Dangerous Goods Office. DfT has appointed the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) as the delegated ‘accreditation’ body. Appointments are made by VCA following an assessment and, where appropriate, recommendation for the appointment by UKAS; successful applicants are issued an approval by the VCA defined by their individual Schedule of Accreditation.

Information on the Inspection Bodies who have been appointed to undertake various functions in connection with the inspection of tanks and / or pressure equipment can be found on the VCA website. Further information on appointments can be obtained from VCA.

An initial inspection and test is carried out at the time of manufacture by the manufacturer in accordance with the applicable design standards with supervision from an Inspection Body selected by the manufacturer. The degree of supervision is dependent upon the choice of the manufacturer and the capability of the manufacturer’s Quality Management System.

Pre-fill inspections are carried out at specially equipped filling centres, with qualified staff using appropriate procedures. Pre-fill inspections are required to conform to the relevant standards. Further information on filling is available in BCGA CP 43.

Note that cylinders are only allowed to be filled and transported if they are in date for their periodic inspection and test, however, you are allowed to transport an out-of-date cylinder provided you are returning it to a place where it will be tested.

A periodic inspection and test is carried out by an approved inspection body. The relevant standards describing the periodic inspection and testing requirements for cylinders include:

  • BS EN 1802, Transportable gas cylinders. Periodic inspection and testing of seamless aluminium alloy gas cylinders.
  • BS EN 1803, Transportable gas cylinders. Periodic inspection and testing of welded carbon steel gas cylinders.
  • BS EN 1968, Transportable gas cylinders. Periodic inspection and testing of seamless steel gas cylinders.
  • BS EN ISO 10460, Gas cylinders. Welded aluminium-alloy, carbon and stainless steel gas cylinders. Periodic inspection and testing.
  • BS EN ISO 10462, Gas cylinders. Acetylene cylinders. Periodic inspection and maintenance.
  • BS EN ISO 11623, Transportable gas cylinders. Periodic inspection and testing of composite gas cylinders.
  • BS EN ISO 18119, Gas cylinders. Seamless steel and seamless aluminium-alloy gas cylinders and tubes. Periodic inspection and testing.

ADR allows an option to extend the period between inspection and test of certain cylinders to 15 years. This extension has to have the agreement of the National Competent Authority. In the UK this is the responsibility of the VCA. The VCA have published guidance to gain approval for (1) LPG cylinders, and (2) for certain aluminium alloy and seamless steel cylinders, the guidance includes an Application Form and an Annual Returns Form.  Additional information is available within BCGA GN 36.

BCGA GN 25 provides guidance on assessing the competency of personnel who are required to undertake periodic inspection and testing of gas cylinders.

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Cylinder Stamp Marks

After successful completion of the initial inspection and test, and any subsequent periodic inspection and test, cylinders are permanently marked with mandatory stamp marks. The stamp mark will consist of the date of the inspection and the identity mark of the Inspection Body.

It is not acceptable to disfigure or remove these stamp marks, for example by grinding.  If there is evidence of deliberate damage the cylinder is to undergo inspection and test before further filling or use is allowed.

For information on stamp marks used by BCGA members refer to BCGA GN 8.

Where conformity assessment of a cylinder is required, for information on the marks required for transportable pressure equipment refer to BCGA GN 48.

In addition, it is good practice to identify the next periodic inspection and test date by the use of a cylinder test ring. Cylinder test rings provide a quick, visual reference. They consist of a plastic disc, fitted between the cylinder and the valve, colour coded and shaped to indicate the year when the next periodic inspection and test is due. This ring may also give an indication of the month. Some companies use two separate plastic rings to indicate the month and year.

Where cylinder test rings are fitted they shall always be whole. If there is evidence of deliberate damage to cylinder test rings, for example, split rings, the cylinder is to undergo inspection and test before further filling or use is allowed.

For information on cylinder test rings, refer to BCGA TIS 6.

 

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Cylinder testing providers

Several members of the BCGA have been appointed and offer the services of an Inspection Body.

The BCGA member companies providing cylinder testing and / or a range of associated services is available here.

Links

Additional information can be found via the links below:

Department for Transport (DfT)

Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

British Standards Institute (BSI)

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)

 

Committees

Within BCGA cylinder testing is the responsibility of Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) 2. Members can access information on TSC2 via the Committee Meetings page.

Publications

BCGA provide several publications which include advice on managing gas cylinders safely. All BCGA publications are accessible via the Publications page.

Publications

CP43 The safe filling of gas cylinders. Revision 2: 2024

15/04/2024 Codes of Practice CP43

The filling of gas cylinders is hazardous and subject to statutory controls. Cylinders have to be checked to ensure their integrity and that they are safe to fill. Filling has to be carried out at specially-equipped centres, with qualified staff using appropriate procedures.

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GN8 Catalogue of gas container marks used by BCGA members and their inspection bodies. Revision 6: 2018

02/05/2018 Guidance Notes GN8

This document provides a list of the recognised gas container test marks used by BCGA members and their inspection bodies during an inspection and test.

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GN25 Guidance on assessing the competency of personnel undertaking periodic inspection and testing of gas cylinders. Revision 1: 2021

15/01/2021 Guidance Notes GN25

Provides guidance on assessing the competency of personnel who are required to undertake periodic inspection and testing of gas cylinders. It explains the regulatory background and then provides extensive information on conducting an appropriate assessment.

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GN36 Guidance for the use, inspection and transport of cylinders with various design codes. 2017

16/08/2017 Guidance Notes GN36

Provides guidance on the range of gas cylinders which may be encountered in the UK and the associated regulations that control their use.

Readers are advised to check the information in GN36 against current legislation. Changes brought about following Brexit will be incorporated in due course.

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GN48 Type Approval and Conformity Assessment of Transportable Pressure Equipment in the UK. Revision 2: 2023

07/02/2023 Guidance Notes GN48

Clarification of the legislation in the UK for transportable pressure equipment, including the various type approval and conformity assessment requirements.

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TIS6 Gas cylinder identification. Label and colour code requirements. Revision 4: 2023

10/11/2023 Technical Information Sheets TIS6

An explanation of the content of a typical gas cylinder label and a guide to the colour codes used on gas cylinders.

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