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June Is National Safety Month - Torch Safety, Part 2 of 3

Since most wear plate is welded into place, this second in a three part series will cover torch safety, since many repairs will require use of a cutting torch.

Part 1 – Eye Safety and PPE

Part 2 – Oxygen – Acetylene Torch Safety

PART 3 - Welding Machine Safety & Metal Removal Safety

PART 2 – OXYGEN – ACETYLENE TORCH SAFETY

There are enough topics on torch safety to talk for over an hour.

At the end of the article will be a checklist covering many items concerning torch safety.

This post will cover three items many people may not know, plus a checklist at the end of the article:

1. Safe Storage & Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders.

Both OSHA and MSHA mandate that fuel gases and oxygen are separated by at least 20 feet. Full and empty tanks of each type are stored in separate areas as well.

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This storage meets OHSA and MSHA requirements with designated locations for the full and empty tanks to be stored separately.

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Don’t rely on your gas distributor delivery person to put the tanks in the right area. This delivery driver put all of the bottles in one location! OSHA and MSHA would still hold you responsible for the violation.

2. Acetylene Tank Construction and Safe Handling.

You must ALWAYS keep acetylene tanks in the vertical position. People have usually heard this but seldom know why it is essential.

To give you an idea how volatile acetylene gas is, acetylene gas cylinders use a specific quantity of liquid acetone in the cylinder to absorb the acetylene gas to keep it stable.

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This new tank was cut in half to show how the inside of an acetylene cylinder is filled with a porous material similar to gypsum drywall. This keeps the acetone and acetylene gas stable.

The reason you NEVER lay an acetylene tank on its side is the liquid acetone will seek its own level and moves through the porous material in the tank like water through the ground.

When you stand the cylinder up again, the acetone will not drop to the bottom like an empty cylinder. It takes time to work its way through the material. If you immediately fire up the torch, you will draw off the acetone.

NOTE: If you have ever used a large heating tip on an acetylene torch, and saw little flaming “spit balls” flying out of the tip, that was the acetone leaving the tank.

Removing too much acetone will cause the acetylene to become unstable.

Maximum working pressure with acetylene is 15 psi, yet the tank is bottled at 400 psi.

3. Using Correct Oxygen – Acetylene Regulator Pressures.

Frequently when using a cutting torch, the worker sets the oxygen and acetylene pressures then begins the task of cutting.

Pop Quiz: You are cutting 0.5” thick steel effectively with the regulator settings at 10 psi oxygen and 10 psi acetylene. You now have to cut 1.5” steel.

What changes do you make the oxygen pressure to cut the heavier steel?


A – Increase oxygen pressure by 10 psi.
B – Increase oxygen pressure by 30 psi
C – Regulator settings stay the same
D – Regulator settings stay the same, change tip size

Answer: You don’t change the regulator settings, you change the cutting tip.

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Notice the gas pressure settings remain the same for the various steel thicknesses, regardless which size tip you use in a Smith SC-12 torch. The Cubic Feet per Hour rate changes because the larger tips have greater gas flow. You should not increase the oxygen pressure when cutting heavier steel, as the pressure for both gases remains the same for the different cutting tips.



Proper Oxy-Fuel torch shut down procedure:

1. Shut down torch per manufacturer’s recommended procedure.
2. Turn off tanks.
3. ONE AT A TIME, open the torch valves to bleed off the gases in the line, then close the torch valves.
4. Release the regulator pressure.

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Failure to follow the above procedure resulted in a $3,000 OSHA citation.

What can happen when oxygen & acetylene gases mix with a lack of common sense?

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The damage to these shorts was caused by an oxygen-acetylene explosion. The young man was badly burned and will never wear shorts in public again.

THERE IS NO PLACE FOR HORSEPLAY WHEN USING OXYGEN AND ACETYLENE GASES.

Checklist When Using Any Oxy-Fuel Torch

While this list doesn’t cover every item you might encounter using a torch, it is a good starting point.

1. Be certain to remove all flammable materials from the work area. Make certain sparks from a cutting torch will not contact any combustible material.

2. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions for correct startup and shut procedures when using a torch. Victor torches require a different shut down procedure than other companies.

3. Be certain to use flashback arrestors on the torch to prevent burn back into the equipment which could cause an explosion or fire.

4. Install check valves on the regulator to prevent reverse flow of the gases, another cause of explosions.

5. Before you start using a torch each day, inspect your hose fitting connections and check for any gas leaks.

6. Acetylene gas is slightly heavier than air and can pool from a leak or loose fitting, potentially causing an explosion.

7. Never cut over your torch hoses. Molten metal can burn through the hose causing a fire.

8. Be cautious of fumes and gases from cleaning compounds and degreasers. Besides the danger of fire and explosion, heat can cause harmful vapors to form without burning.

9. Fill out any required Hot Work Permits before starting work.
Use a fire watch person during the time you are doing hot work, including 30 minutes after the torch has been shut down.

For over 40 years JADCO has been a leader in the wear plate industry, and have established friendships all over the world.

Please work safely.

It is essential to make sure our friends and customers are not injured on the job.

Be certain to watch for Part 3 of 3 next week when we will address Welding Machine Safety & Metal Removal Safety.

Remember, JADCO’s QT Plus ® delivers greater wear performance IN YOUR WEAR APPLICATIONS than the myriad of AR400 wear steel you have previously used.

Being able to create wear resistant steel having the same hardness through the entire thickness of the plate; requires precisely controlled chemistry and careful heat treating.

Yet most steel wear plate distributors choose to limit the proper quantities of these essential elements trying to get a lower price.

For over the last 40 years JADCO has focused exclusively on delivering consistent, longer equipment life for our customers. We think differently by strictly focusing to improve your results.

Allow us to help you today by calling (724) 452-5252, or email info@jadcomfg.com.

We will schedule a meeting with one of our local wear plate specialists at a time that best fits your schedule.

Remember, the only thing you have to lose by not working with JADCO, are your profits.

When your standard AR wear plate gives out, give JADCO a shout! (724) 452-5252