HC Deb 22 July 1980 vol 989 cc160-1W
39. Mr. Park

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied, on grounds of safety, that the decision to raise the period of re-examination and retesting of high pressure gas cylinders, and hydrogen cylinders from five years to 10 years is justified in the case of cylinders used to service North Sea oil requirements on platforms and drilling rigs and transportable hydrogen cylinders as used in power stations.

Mr. Mayhew

In 1979 provision was made by exemption order No. 2 under the Gas Cylinders (Conveyance) Regulations 1931, as amended in 1959, for users of cylinders for certain gases which are transported by road to increase the interval between periodic examinations and tests from five years to 10 years, provided that the gases are of a specified degree of dryness and that written approval of Her Majesty's Inspector of Explosives has been obtained. I am satisfied that such relaxations will not be granted unless Her Majesty's Explosives Inspectorate, considers that the longer period is not prejudicial to safety.

Gas cylinders forming part of the fixed equipment of an offshore installation should be thoroughly examined every five years as part of the "major survey" required by The Offshore Installations (Construction and Survey) Regulations 1974.

I understand that the Health and Safety Executive is considering, in conjunction with the petroleum engineering directorate of the Department of Energy, possible improvements in the present arrangements for safeguards in all other gas cylinders used on offshore installations.

There are no specific legal requirements for periodic examinations of transportable hydrogen cylinders as used at power stations where they are arranged in fixed banks to provide a static storage facility. Such cylinders would be subject however to the basic provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which in effect, requires the cylinders to be safely maintained.

The present laws controlling the safety of gas cylinders are limited in their application and they are currently under review as part of the Health and Safety Commission's proposals for new legislation for pressurised systems.