Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Chemical/Biological Safety Section
Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety
Any person who handles compressed gas cylinders should be informed of their potential health and safety hazards. The cylinder label should state clearly the hazards and the appropriate precautions to be taken. Compressed gases are usually divided into six basic categories, with some gases falling into more than one classification. The categories are as follows:
- Flammable Gases
- Oxygen and Oxidizing Gases
- Acid and Alkaline Gases
- Highly Toxic Gases
- Cryogenic Liquefied Gases
- Inert Gases
The following are some general rules for safe handling of compressed gas cylinders:
* Know a cylinder's contents. Never remove or deface a contents identification label.
* Know the hazardous properties of a cylinder's contents.
* Regularly inspect gas cylinders for obvious signs of defects, deep rusting, or leakage.
* Keep MSDS's in the immediate area.
* Handle cylinders carefully.
* Fasten cylinders securely in use, transit, and storage.
* When storing cylinders, they should be chained at 1/3 and 2/3 their height, or set in stable racks, with valve caps attached.
* Store cylinders in a ventilated area away from heat or ignition sources. Never smoke around cylinders.
* Transport large cylinders only on a wheeled cart.
* Do not use lasers near cylinders.
* Never tamper with any part of a valve such as the safety nuts or packing nuts. Report leaks or damaged cylinders to the original vendor to arrange for exchange of cylinders.
* Do not strike an electric arc on cylinders.
* Use cylinders only with equipment suitable for the contents. Do not force connections or use "homemade" adapters.
* Cylinders, cylinder valves, couplings, regulators, hoses, and apparatus should be kept free of oily or greasy substances.
* Do not use cylinders without a regulator.
* Close cylinder valves when not in use.
* Never attempt to refill a cylinder.
* Close valves on empty cylinders and mark the cylinder "empty" with the initials "M.T."
* Be sure to promptly return cylinders to their appropriate vendors.
* Never accept or use a leaking cylinder.
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