Check your cylinders

Published:  02 May, 2018

Catastrophic failures of aluminium cylinders used for underwater breathing apparatus prompt safety alert.

The alert has been issued by the Health & Safety Executive in the UK and covers aluminium cylinders used primarily to contain gases for underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) and manufactured from aluminium alloys HE30/AA6082 and AA6351.

Cylinders manufactured from these alloys are known to be susceptible to sustained-load cracking.

These cylinders were manufactured by several companies in several countries between 1963 and 1995. Any cylinders still in use are between 23 and 55 years old.

The alert says that these cylinders should only be used if they have undergone thorough visual inspection and testing with an eddy-current device by a competent inspector.

Serious harm was caused by failure of an HE30/AA6082 cylinder in England in 2017, which followed similarly harmful failures of AA6351 SCUBA cylinders in Indonesia and Australia in 2016.

Luxfer Gas Cylinders manufactured HE30/AA6082 and AA6351 cylinders in England and AA6351 cylinders in the USA and Australia. Walter Kidde Company in the USA, CIG Gas Cylinders in Australia (acquired by Luxfer Gas Cylinders in 1997) and Reynolds Tube Company Ltd (later known as TI Hollow Extrusions) in England also manufactured cylinders from these alloys.

Owners of this type of equipment should check whether any of their cylinders are manufactured or suspected to be manufactured from aluminium alloys HE30/AA6082 or AA6351, by looking for specific alloy-related markings or for a manufacture date prior to 1995.

If markings cannot be easily read or if they are missing, the cylinder should be removed from service and the gas released. Similarly, if it is not possible to determine that eddy-current testing has been carried out on an HE30/AA6082 or AA6351 cylinder, the same course of action should be followed until the eddy-current testing has been performed.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock/Budimir Jevtic

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