Here are precautions to take when cooking with gas

Gas is a fast and efficient way to cook: it turns out that its use is gaining more grounds in developing countries, as it already saturated developed countries.

It is important that your kitchen complies with certain safety standards. Gas cookers and hotplates must have adequate clearance from combustible surfaces, for example:

  • Range-hoods must be at least 600mm above the cooking appliance.
  • Exhaust fans must be 750mm above the appliance.
  • Burners must have clearances of 200mm, unless the nearby wall or surface is suitably protected.

When doing the real cooking

When cooking, be especially careful with fats and oils. Never leave cooking unattended even for a few moments – it is one of the most common and preventable causes of domestic fires, with over 30 per cent of ‘Victorian house’ fires starting in the kitchen or cooking area.

Fats and cooking oils will ignite once they have reached a certain temperature.

Never use water to put out fat and oil fires

Water can cause a fire to spread rapidly and inflict horrific burns. If a fire starts, turn off the stove or cover the flame with the pot lid if it is safe to do so. Then use an appropriate fire extinguisher, such as a wet chemical extinguisher, or fire blanket to smother the flames.

Many people fail to realise the potential severity of scald burns. Extensive scald injuries can be life threatening, especially in young and elderly people. Most scald injuries that occur in the home are easily preventable.

Tips on cooking safely

  • Never leave cooking unattended to.
  • Never get distracted. If you are called away, turn off the gas.
  • Never allow a child to cook without adult’s supervision.
  • Turn pot handles away from the stove edge.
  • Keep stoves and cook tops free of grease and fat build-up.
  • Hang tea-towels and oven mitts away from the stove.
  • Wear tight-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Ensure the exhaust fan above the stove is clean and free of grease and fat build-up.
  • Have a fire blanket and extinguisher in the kitchen.
  • Ensure smoke alarms are working.
  • Have a fire escape plan in place.
  • Feeling cold? Do not use cooking appliances as heaters. They are not designed for this purpose.
  • When cooking with gas, make sure the flame does not go out – gas can escape silently and invisibly.[1]

 Gas Cylinders – Safe Use of Gas Cylinders

The following is based on guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (June 2004).

Accidents involving gas cylinders can cause serious injury or even death. This guidance provides simple practical advice on eliminating or reducing the risks associated with using gas cylinders.

The guidance is aimed at anyone who manufactures, owns, fills, repairs or uses gas cylinders at work, and especially those who own or manage small businesses.

The legal term that covers gas cylinders is ‘pressure receptacle’

This is a generic term covering a number of types of pressure receptacle: tube, pressure drum, cryogenic receptacle, bundle of cylinders as well as cylinders themselves, plus the valve(s) fitted directly to the receptacle. However for the purpose of this guidance, the term “gas cylinder” shall be taken to mean all these various types of pressure receptacle.

Gas cylinders used in adverse or extreme conditions, such as for breathing apparatus, may require special precautions. Although the advice in this guidance is valid for all uses of gas cylinders these special precautions, such as different frequencies for periodic inspections, are not covered.

As an employer or self-employed person, you have a duty to provide a safe workplace and safe work equipment. Designers, inspectors, manufacturers, suppliers, users and owners also have duties.

Employers have a further duty to consult any safety or employee representatives on health and safety matters. Where none are appointed, employers should consult the workforce directly.

Use of Gas Cylinders

Gas cylinders are a convenient way to transport and store gases under pressure. These gases are used for many different purposes including:

  • Chemical processes;
  • Soldering, welding and flame cutting;
  • Breathing (e.g. Diving, emergency rescue);
  • Medical and laboratory uses;
  • Dispensing beverages;
  • Fuel for vehicles (e.g. Fork-lift trucks);
  • Extinguishing fires;
  • Heating and cooking; and
  • Water treatment.

The main hazards are:

  • Impact from the blast of a gas cylinder explosion or rapid release of compressed gas.
  • Impact from parts of gas cylinders or valves that fail, or any flying debris.
  • Contact with the released gas or fluid (such as chlorine).
  • Fire resulting from the escape of flammable gases or fluids (such as liquefied petroleum gas).
  • Impact from falling cylinders.
  • Manual handling injuries.

The main causes of accidents are:

  • Inadequate training and supervision.
  • Poor installation.
  • Poor examination and maintenance.
  • Faulty equipment and/or design (e.g. Badly fitted valves and regulators).
  • Poor handling.
  • Poor storage.
  • Inadequately ventilated working conditions.
  • Incorrect filling procedures.
  • Hidden damage.

How to Reduce the Risks

All gas cylinders must be designed and manufactured to an approved standard to withstand everyday use and to prevent danger. They must be initially inspected before they are put into service to ensure they conform to the approved standard and be periodically examined at appropriate intervals to ensure that they remain safe while in service. To reduce the risks of failure you need to know, and act on, the following precautions.

Training

Anyone who examines, refurbishes, fills or uses a gas cylinder should be suitably trained and have the necessary skills to carry out their job safely. They should understand the risks associated with the gas cylinder and its contents.

Manufacture and Initial Examination

The law requires that gas cylinders are:

  • Manufactured to an appropriate standard approved under the relevant legislation.
  • Examined by “a relevant inspection body” to verify that the cylinders are manufactured correctly and conform to the appropriate design standard.
  • Owners and fillers should satisfy themselves that the manufacturing requirements have been carried out, by examining either:
  • The written certificate which accompanies the gas cylinder; or
  • The stamp or mark of the relevant inspection body on the gas cylinder itself.

Periodic examination

If you own or fill gas cylinders: to make sure that they are safe for continued use, you must ensure that they have been examined at the intervals set out in Packaging Instruction P200 in ADR, as required by the Carriage Regulations, Regulation 18 and Regulation 21 for cylinders manufactured from 10 May 2004, or Schedule 2, paragraph 4, for cylinders manufactured before 10 May 2004.

Repair

For old Transportable Pressure Receptacles (TPRs) there are legal requirements which prohibit modifications (with the exception of neck thread cutting) or major repairs to the body of seamless gas cylinders or cylinders which have contained acetylene. However, legal requirements allow for the modification and major repair (i.e. hot work) of other types of cylinders, subject to certain conditions. These include that a relevant inspection body marks or certifies the cylinder as being fit for use.

Filling

Anyone carrying out the filling of gas cylinders should wear appropriate personal protective equipment. This may include safety shoes, protective overalls, gloves and ear and eye protection.

Lifting

  • Use suitable cradles, slings, clamps or other effective means when lifting cylinders with a hoist or crane.
  • Do not use valves, shrouds and caps for lifting cylinders unless they have been designed and manufactured for this purpose.
  • Gas cylinders should not be raised or lowered on the forks of lift trucks unless adequate precautions are taken to prevent them from falling.

Storage

  • Gas cylinders should not be stored for excessive periods of time. Only purchase sufficient quantities of gas to cover short-term needs.
  • Rotate stocks of gas cylinders to ensure first in is first used.
  • Store gas cylinders in a dry, safe place on a flat surface in the open air. If this is not reasonably practicable, store in an adequately ventilated building or part of a building specifically reserved for this purpose.
  • Gas cylinders containing flammable gas should not be stored in part of a building used for other purposes.
  • Protect gas cylinders from external heat sources that may adversely affect their mechanical integrity.
  • Gas cylinders should be stored away from sources of ignition and other flammable materials.
  • Avoid storing gas cylinders so that they stand or lie in water.
  • Ensure the valve is kept shut on empty cylinders to prevent contaminants getting in.
  • Store gas cylinders securely when they are not in use. They should be properly restrained, unless designed to be free-standing.
  • Gas cylinders must be clearly marked to show what they contain and the hazards associated with their contents.
  • Store cylinders where they are not vulnerable to hazards caused by impact, e.g. from vehicles such as fork-lift trucks.[2]

[1] Energy Safe Victoria, General gas hints around the home.

[2] University of St Andrew, Gas Cylinders – Safe Use of Gas Cylinders (GUIDANCE).

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