Workplace Hazard-The Risks Of Using Gas

Gas and the workplace

The word 'gas' can be used to describe the physical state of many substances. While a number of gases have very specific safety requirements, this guidance relates to the use of gas as a fuel within the workplace.

Gas is commonly used in the workplace for heating the work environment and water supplies, cooking and for processing products.

The gas itself can come from a number of sources including natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and methane. The risks of explosion, poisoning, etc. are similar for all.

Gas can be supplied either piped into the premises from the mains supply or a storage tank, or in small cylinders used close to the appliance with a flexible hose connection.

The risks of using gas

When gas does not burn properly, or is used in an area without adequate ventilation, it produces excess carbon monoxide (CO) – a colourless, odourless gas. This can happen regardless of the type of gas being burned, whether from bottles or from a mains supply.

When inhaled, carbon monoxide binds with the haemoglobin in the blood. This reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen, starving the body of oxygen and poisoning it.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include tiredness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea and chest and stomach pains.

In extreme cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can kill within a matter of hours.

There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  1. if there is inadequate ventilation in the room where the appliance is located

  2. if the flue or chimney is blocked and cannot vent the system properly

  3. if the appliance has not been regularly maintained by a competent person