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Airgas imageEnvironmental Management is asking that all researchers and building administrators commit to a new standard process of reporting empty gas cylinders to save UAB money.

There are approximately 3,600 gas cylinders on campus, which is an increase of more than 1,000 cylinders since 2010. Gas cylinders and supplies are used in several areas throughout the UAB enterprise, including the hospital, recreational center, laboratories, and maintenance areas.

Because gas cylinders are used in almost every area of the university, it is vital that EH&S knows where all cylinders are and that proper safety management steps are being taken when handling the cylinders.

After evaluating the gas cylinders maintenance process on campus, the Environment Management team decided to record and create an up-to-date inventory list of all cylinder locations on campus. Once the team started this new process, team members discovered that the accumulation of gas cylinders was due to a large amount of used and empty cylinders.

“There may be other areas where there are still large accumulations of empty cylinders, that we are not aware of,” said Eric Grace, Hazardous Waste Manager. “We would like to cover the entire campus, and find the locations of all empty cylinders.”

Grace said that finding the displaced cylinders could mean cost savings for the university because each cylinder is rented from an external vendor.

“It is also important that we exercise our financial responsibility,” said Eric Grace, “by removing any empty or abandoned cylinders that we are paying unwarranted rental fees on.” 

Grace said the team doesn’t yet have a firm estimate on cost savings because of the different variables involved.

Continuous improvement projects - even ones that save only a small amount - can be combined to add up to huge savings for the university as a whole.

Grace said that the team needs help from all building administrators, researchers, and gas cylinder vendors in reporting any information they may have about gas cylinders on campus.

“If there are two or more empty cylinders in a lab,” said Grace, “we need to know where they are located. If an administrator has any information I ask that they contact us.”

Environmental Management has teamed up with Airgas, a gas cylinder vendor, to create a gas cylinder inventory tracking system that should help keep track of new cylinders that are delivered to campus. Airgas drops off full cylinders and picks up empty ones on a routine basis. Airgas has also removed the majority of the empty cylinders that have been reported in areas on campus.

“However, there are more empty cylinders on campus that we need to find,” said Grace. “When we locate another 100 cylinders, which shouldn’t take long, we plan to schedule another pick up.”

To report empty gas cylinders in your area, please contact Anton Jones at ajonessr@uab.edu.

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