Licence to fill

Donna Neill Cylinder Filler

Donna Neill fills gas cylinders. What may seem a routine task in fact comes with a big responsibility. Find out more…

Her role requires strong attention to detail and a focus on safety. Donna must not only ensure the safety of herself and her colleagues, she also plays a part in improving people’s lives. Normally the people who benefit from her work are strangers. But sometimes the impact is closer to home.

I feel proud knowing that the job I am doing is helping somebody else.

So, what brought you to Linde?
My interest in this kind of work goes a long way back. It started at school! I was the only girl that did metalwork and woodwork – me and 35 guys! Since then I’ve always been in heavy industry. I like working with my hands.

What does a typical day look like?
On the early shift, which starts at 6.30, I’d usually be first in. I turn the compressor on and get the kettle going. We all meet and then we get to work: sorting, checking and filling cylinders. The job requires careful precision. If you’re filling medical oxygen for example, you must ensure there is no grease in the valves that could cause ignition. So you check the cylinder using your torch. Industrial oxygen we check with an endoscope. Then once the cylinder is filled, we have special tools to check the flow and detect leaks.

What is your greatest everyday challenge?
Safety. It’s my number one priority. That includes getting to work safely, doing the job safely, making sure everyone around me is safe and getting home in one piece. I would never compromise safety to meet a quota. For example, I check 180 cylinders of medical oxygen in a day – and the 180th cylinder has to be checked to the same standard as the 1st one. I’m a rules person. If there were 120 safety rules, I’d follow them all.

Do you see the impact of your work in everyday life?
Yes, although the end users are very diverse. For example, some cylinders go to our famous Belfast shipyard for welding. Others are used in hospitality. It’s funny: Just last week I was sitting outside at a bar and spotted some cylinders. I thought to myself ‘we fill those!’

What makes you feel proud of your work?
A while ago I actually felt quite a personal connection. I went to visit someone in the cardiac intensive care ward. When I got there, I saw the breathing apparatus and saw one of our cylinders. I wondered if I had filled it. It tugged at the heartstrings a bit. I feel proud knowing that the job I am doing is helping somebody else.

Fast facts

  • Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Started @ Linde: 2012
  • Hobbies: Fishing
  • Favourite film: The Sound of Music
  • Favourite music: Country & Western – Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton
  • Interesting fact about me: I am the only female cylinder filler in Ireland!