Compressed gases are commonly used at the University, and usually are in the form of pressurized metal cylinders filled with gases or liquids. Cylinder contents may be ignitable, inert, or corrosive, and the high pressures at which these materials are often held can cause serious injury and damage if these containers are handled improperly. Minimum safety standards to be followed in the handling and storage of compressed gases include:
- Understand safety hazards associated with all compressed gases used in your work area
- Regularly inspect all cylinders and note the date of the last inspection, and return to distributor if cylinder is damaged or if the interval since last testing has exceeded 5 years
- Confirm that the contents of all compressed gases are clearly labeled
- Label cylinders indicating the date of receipt, and whether they are full, part-full, or empty – return empty cylinders to distributor promptly
- Store cylinders with cap in place in an upright position in a well-ventilated area away from heat and electrical wiring
- All gas cylinders must be secured by a chain, cable, or other suitable means to prevent toppling during storage and transport
- Do not roll or drop cylinders while moving, move cylinders with protective cap in place, and always use an approved cylinder transport cart for handling
- Store flammable and toxic gases above ground, never in basements
- Do not store gas cylinders near corrosive materials
Training on the use of gas cylinders must include installation and use of fittings, valves, and regulators. Unless the application requires otherwise, always dispense compressed gases using a pressure regulator. Never attempt to control gas flow using the cylinder valve. Use only Teflon tape or pipe tape on pipe thread connections. Use appropriate ferrules or other fittings on compression fittings. Do not use brass fittings with acetylene. Close cylinder valves on all compressed gases connected to a system where a leak is suspected. If cylinder contents are in any way hazardous, and the leak is from the container or from the cylinder valve, evacuate the area immediately and follow the procedures for a hazardous chemical spill or release.
Environmental Health & Safety Link
EHS provides a number of Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide additional and useful information.