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Gases contained in pressurised cylinders are used in the University principally for teaching and research and for soldering, welding and flame cutting in maintenance workshops and other workplaces. They are safe after adequate risk assessments have been conducted and when suitable risk reduction measures have been implemented. The main causes of accidents with compressed gases and cylinders include:
Liquid nitrogen is a cryogenic substance commonly used for freezing and storing materials particularly of biological origin. Other cryogenic liquid substances include oxygen, helium, argon and carbon dioxide; carbon dioxide is also employed as a solid and is commonly termed dri-ice. There are four main hazards associated with cryogenic substances:
· Extreme cold, which can cause severe burns through rapid heat transfer
· Contamination of normal air, causing asphyxiation
· Considerable volume change between the liquid and gaseous phases which, on sudden release, can cause harm
· Increased risk of fire, from storing and releasing combustion-supporting gases.
Because gases and cryogenic substances are classed as chemical agents their safe use must be conducted in accordance with the Chemical Agents Regulations (see guidance in NUI Galway Safety Statement - link to follow). Users of compressed gases and cryogenic substances must understand and comply with other safety-related procedures particularly those concerning laboratories and workshops where compressed gas cylinders and cryogenic substances are commonly found.
Because such gases are compressed, users must comply with the Pressure Systems Regulations 2012
Relevant links to further information and support documents include:
PLEASE NOTE: If you have any doubt about the safety of or your own knowledge of compressed gases or cryogenic equipment or procedures you are strongly advised to consult with your supervisor before use.