Health and safety at work
Under Health and Safety legislation it is the responsibility of all employers to train their employees on the recommended safeguards relating to products and equipment used at work. To help its customers to achieve this BOC Healthcare provides a range of information on the safe handling of medical gases and their use.
BOC Healthcare is dedicated to making sure the products we supply to our customers have undergone rigorous safety and quality checks at each stage of their manufacture. The nature of the product however, means that there are some risks associated with its use that need to be considered by all customer staff who handle or use medical gases.
BOC provide training material in relation to cylinder operation to assist our customers to appreciate the best practices for cylinder handling and use.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are also given free to customers when they open an account. These documents contain valuable safety guidance for use of the product. The latest MSDS is also available online.
This important information will guide customers and employees to enable them, when handling medical gas cylinders to be as safe as is reasonably practicable.
Fire and explosion risk
Some materials which do not normally burn in air will burn in an atmosphere of oxygen, nitrous oxide or gas mixtures containing more than 21% oxygen. These gases do not burn themselves, but strongly support combustion, and therefore special attention should be directed to the hazards associated with smoking and naked flames. When using medical gas cylinders it is most important that no part of the cylinder valve or equipment is either lubricated or contaminated with oil or grease. This is due to the risk of spontaneous combustion that can occur with high pressure gases in the presence of hydrocarbons.
BOC Healthcare provides FireSafe products to help reduce the risk of oxygen fuelled fires. For further information please see our equipment catalogue.
Special care is needed with the use of moisturising/hand creams and under no circumstances should oil based creams be used. These could contaminate the medical cylinder valve surface when handling the cylinder and lead to an ignition when the valve is turned on.
The current procedure in a healthcare environment is that you should have clean hands to reduce the spread of infection. The preferred way of ensuring that your hands are suitably clean is to wash them thoroughly with soap and water and then to apply alcohol gel as an anti-bacterial agent. However, this is not always practicable and alcohol gels may be used as an appropriate short-term solution until you have proper hand washing facilities available.
It is safe to use alcohol gel with medical gases provided it is used correctly and massaged well into the hands. All traces of the gel must be allowed to evaporate before handling any medical gas cylinders or equipment. Particular care is needed to ensure that the gel has evaporated from the areas between the fingers.