Elevating work platforms and the placement of gas cylinders for cutting or welding
Gas cutting and gas welding from elevating work platforms (EWP) is often done on demolition and other construction sites. Other than limited guidance published in the 1990s, there has been no clear and current advice available on where to position gas cylinders when undertaking this work.
Please refer to the section 'Previously published guidance' for details of the existing information.
This guidance note provides advice on the placement of gas cylinders when gas cutting or welding from EWPs to reduce the likelihood of injury to workers.
Before commencing any gas cutting or welding from an EWP, assess the situation by asking:
1. Is cutting or welding from an EWP necessary; i.e. can the task be safely undertaken at ground level?
2. If cutting or welding from an EWP is necessary, can it be done without using gas such as cold cutting or arc welding?
3. If gas cutting or gas welding from an EWP is necessary, what is the safest method of locating and securing gas cylinders?
4. Is the EWP suitable and serviceable for the task? Either boom type or scissor lift EWPs can be used. The EWP must have sufficient capacity to hold the cylinders, equipment and operator. Also, the height and reach of the EWP must permit the operator to remain inside the confines of the platform at all times.
5. Are there sufficiently trained operators for the assigned tasks? There should be arrangements for at least one other person trained in the operation of the EWP to be readily available in an emergency.
Employers must ensure that EWP operators have received sufficient training to enable them to use the particular brand and model of EWP safely. In addition, persons operating boom-type EWPs with boom lengths of 11 metres or more must hold an appropriate certificate of competency (class code WP).
6. What personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed? Australian Standard AS 4839, the safe use of portable mobile and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems recommends heavy cotton or woollen clothing with suitable leatherwork boots (see Section 10 of AS 4839 for further advice on PPE).
Note: Synthetic or other flammable clothing, including types of flammable high visibility vests, should not be worn by workers involved in gas cutting or welding.
Before positioning gas cylinders in an EWP
1. Make sure that the gas cylinders are:
- upright and located away from any EWP controls;
- secured to withstand any lateral or vertical movement from the EWP;
- positioned so as not to upset the balance of the EWP; and
- The minimum size sufficient to carry out the work. Gas cylinders should not be attached to the outside of the platform unless the EWP has been specifically designed (or redesigned) for the purpose.
2. Check that the gas cylinders can be safely loaded and unloaded into the EWP.
- The manual handling of gas cylinders into and out of the EWP can be high risk if not properly assessed and controlled.
- If the EWP is a boom type, check to see if the platform can be lowered to ground level.
3. Inspect the work zone at the height of operation to identify any hazards for the operator, EWP and equipment.
- The potential path of the EWP should be walked on the ground and the potential height of operations inspected for hazards.
- Cylinder valves, gauges and regulators should not be above the height of the EWP guard railing so as to prevent mechanical damage from obstructions.
4. Maintain a sufficient separation between the operator and the gas cylinder(s).
- Use of gas cylinders in 'enclosed' EWPs (i.e. where both the walls and floors allow the gases to accumulate) is considered unacceptable because of the fire risk from gas vapour emissions.
- The basket or platform should be of sufficient size to permit a one metre clearance between the worker's controls and the gas cylinders.
5. Ensure that firefighting equipment is in the EWP.
- A fire blanket or extinguisher should be in an EWP when gas cylinders are on board.
6. The work practice should ensure that the worker, EWP, gas cylinders and hoses are free from falling debris.
- When oxy cutting from EWPs, care should be taken that hot slag does not drop onto cutting hoses or cylinders or any part of the EWP. Only if all the above factors are checked and adequately controlled, should gas cylinders be located in an EWP.
If the gas cylinders are to be positioned on the ground
1. Make sure that the gas cylinders are:
- secured upright with regulators, valves and gauges directed away from the platform. They should be braced or secured and not free standing;
- located so that they can be seen by the EWP operator and are not in the path of the EWP; and
- Not a hazard to or from either the EWP or any passing traffic. This may require the use of a spotter or guarding.
2. Check that the gas cylinders can be safely moved to follow the EWP, as required.
- Cylinders should be secured in trolleys for manual handling.
- To avoid damage to equipment, hoses should be disconnected and contained in the platform whilst travelling and should be reconnected to the cylinders once the EWP is stationary again.
3. Ensure that the length of cylinder hose can easily accommodate the height range of operation.
- The intended path of the EWP should be walked on the ground and the intended height of operations inspected to ensure that the hoses will be of satisfactory length. Clause 6.5 of AS 4839-2001 recommends that hoses not exceed 15 metres in total length. However, there may be certain circumstances where the use of hoses greater than 15 metres in length is appropriate in demolition and other construction tasks. In such cases, the work should be done in accordance with this guidance note provided that there are no other risks or danger from that work practice.
- The proposed manner and area of operation of the EWP should be assessed to ensure that the hoses will not become snagged on obstructions or from the raising or lowering of the EWP.
4. Check that firefighting equipment is readily available.
- Firefighting equipment may consist of a fire blanket or extinguisher.
5. Make sure that the cutting or welding is not going to create a hazard.
- Care should be taken that hot slag does not drop onto cutting hoses or cylinders, or any part of the EWP.
Only if all the above factors are checked and controlled, should gas cylinders be located on the ground in support of an EWP work practice.
Previously published guidance
AS 2550: Cranes: Safe use. Part 10: Elevating work platforms
Clause 9.13 states: "Where gas cylinders are to be carried on an elevating work platform, the cylinders shall be adequately secured. Only the minimum quantity of gas sufficient to carry out the work should be transported. Not more than one 'D' size cylinder of gas should be transported at any time. A minimum separation of one metre shall be possible between personnel and cylinders. Fusible plugs shall be directed away from the platform and a fire protection blanket in conformance with AS 3504 shall be carried".
WorkSafe publication Demolition (Code of Practice No 14, 1991)
Clause 15.3 states: "Oxy cutting bottles should not be carried in the platforms of boom type EWPs due to the dangers of fire. When oxy cutting from EWPs, care should be taken that hot slag does not drop onto cutting hoses or bottles or onto any part of the EWP vehicle. When using oxy bottles in scissor lifts, the bottles should be secured in the uprights position at the opposite end from the platform controls. A fire extinguisher should be in the scissors lift at all times when cutting… (Note: When gas and oxy is being used in a boom type platform, a nominated person must be readily available to turn off bottles in case of an emergency at all times)".
Since the release of this publication, boom-type EWPs with much larger baskets have become available. EWP baskets that have at least a one metre clearance between the controls and the cylinders, and have adequate floor venting to prevent gases accumulating, may be considered for use with the gas cylinders provided that there are no other risks or danger involved in that work practice.
Acts and Regulations
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety (Manual Handling) Regulations 1999
Acts and regulations are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or order online at
If you only want to view the legislation you can use the Parliament of Victoria web site; go to
www.dms.dpc.vic.gov.au, click on "Victorian Law Today" and scroll down to the "Search" window.
Victorian WorkCover Authority
Homepage: Select a Victorian WorkCover Authority industry or publications
Contact your local Victorian WorkCover Authority office
Contact the advisory service or phone 1800 136 089
AS 2550.10: 1994 - Cranes; Safe use. Part 10: Elevating work platforms
AS/NZS 3504: 1995 - Fire blankets
AS 4839: 2001 - The safe use of portable and mobile oxy-fuel gas systems for welding, cutting, heating and allied processes
Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or by visiting the web site at www.standards.com.au
Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to the Victorian WorkCover Authority, and should be used for general use only. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority cannot be held responsible and extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances; or actions taken by third parties as a result of information contained in the guidance material.