A few days ago, near the Industrial Area 1 of Sharjah, I noticed a pick-up truck transporting approximately 40 oxygen and acetylene gas cylinders, which were laid across, and bundled together. The driver did not even bother to secure the cylinders; they could easily slide off. Most of the gas cylinders did not have the protective valve guard or caps.
This is a gross violation of road safety rules and puts the life of other road users and communities at great risk.
In the event of a crash, a sudden serve, hard braking or a tyre burst, the pick-up could topple, with its cargo of deadly cylinders on the roads. Once a cylinder drops, it could be a deadly projectile and travel a long distance with its stored energy.
It is prohibited to transport acetylene cylinders in a rolled position, due to the volatile nature of its fuel, which can react due to decomposition of its stored contents from repeated movements and knocking. According to safety guidelines published by US-based company Air Products, acetylene is stored inside cylinders at a pressure of 250 pound per square inch (PSI) at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Additionally, it can burn with a flame temperature of 3,087 degrees Celsius. This is tremendous pressure and heat at the same time, during a fire.
As per Dubai Municipality’s technical guidelines on industrial compressed gas cylinders, the following guidelines are mandatory when transporting industrial compressed gases.
• All vehicles transporting compressed gas cylinders need to be approved by Dubai Municipality and Civil Defence.
• The name of the transport company has to be clearly displayed on the vehicle.
• Cylinders of different gas should not be mixed together when being transported. Therefore, oxygen cylinders should not be transported with acetylene and other forms of flammable gas cylinders.
• All gas cylinders should be transported in an upright position and placed in such a manner that they do not knock against each other or other obstructions.
• All cylinders should have valve protection caps.
• Cylinders should not be rolled or dropped on the ground from vehicles onto rubber tyres or similar packaging.
• Cylinders should be attached to the vehicle to prevent them from falling off.
• The vehicle should have at least two dry chemical powder extinguishers.
• The driver has to be trained in safe handling and transportation of the cylinders.
I urge the authorities to strongly curb unauthorised means of transporting industrial compressed gas cylinders and raise awareness levels in all emirates. Some commercial organisations, despite knowing the correct procedures, choose to take such dangerous shortcuts, which will greatly endanger the lives of fellow road users and nearby communities.
— The reader is a quality, health, safety and environment manager based in Dubai.
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