BOC is changing the identification colours of its gas cylinders as part of a European move to make gases and their associated hazards easy to identify.

The move comes ahead of an EU regulation (BS EN1089-3) due in July 2006, which directs all compressed gas producers to implement a harmonised cylinder colour identification scheme for industrial and special gases.

BOC director of special products, Mike Dennis said: “The safe use and handling of gas is a priority for BOC and ensuring the safety of our customers always begins with clear cylinder identification, backed up by regular safety training and testing of our cylinder products.

“With a range of over 22,000 pure gas and special gas mixtures supplied to a variety of industries, quick identification is crucial and requires a combination of clear labelling and recognised colours to alert all who use gas to the appropriate safety measures.

“Throughout the UK and continental Europe a range of differing colour ID’s have been used to identify the estimated 40 million cylinders in circulation. BOC believes harmonisation will go a long way to ensuring safety with gas is made easier for all.”

The new colour coding applies solely to the shoulder or curved part at the top of the cylinder and is used to either identify the gas or the properties of the gas inside. Two shoulder colours may be used where a gas has more than one property, so nitrogen dioxide, for example, being toxic and oxidising will carry yellow and light blue bands on the cylinder shoulder.

The changeover for BOC special products cylinders begins this autumn and, given the number of cylinders in circulation, is expected to take five years to fully implement. The new colours will be seen on the majority of newly delivered cylinders within a few months.