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Compressed Gas Cylinders


  • All compressed gas cylinders are required to be clearly labeled as to the contents and any associated hazards. Deteriorated or corroded labels must be replaced.
  • All cylinders without adequate labeling to identify contents shall be labeled as "Contents Unknown" and returned to supplier. Color coding is not a reliable method of determining contents.
  • Tags marked full, in service or empty will be placed on cylinders. Also, indicate the department the cylinder belongs too.

General Handling and Storage Procedures

  • Compressed gas cylinders shall be transported on chain equipped hand trucks or carts. Never roll or drag cylinders. This process can damage the cylinder and injuries can be sustained.
  • All compressed gas cylinders must be secured individually in the upright position by using an approved single chain, strap or stand 2/3 of the way up from the floor, to a stationary building support  (wall or floor), or to a cylinder cart to prevent falling.
  • In circumstances where more than one cylinder needs to be secured with a single chain/strap, prior approval from the HSC Safety Office must be obtained. No more than 6 can be stored with one chain/strap in that event.
  • Lecture bottles must be placed in a rack designed for the purpose (resembling an oversize test-tube rack) or be firmly clamped to a ring stand with a heavy base, in an upright position.
  • Cylinders shall never be dropped or permitted to strike each other violently.
  • Valve safety covers shall be in place until pressure regulators or needle valves are ready to be attached.
  • Employees must not attempt to repair cylinders or cylinder valves, or to force stuck or frozen cylinder valves.
  • Cylinders not required for current use shall be stored in the loading dock gas cylinder cage. If stored indoors, cylinders should be stored in well ventilated areas away from sources of heat and ignition. The area must be secured from unauthorized access with appropriate signage on the outside to inform emergency personnel of potential hazards. Storage rooms must meet the Code requirements of NFPA 55 Standard for Storage, Use and Handling of Compressed and Liquefied Gases in Portable Containers.
  • Where stored in the open, cylinders must be protected from direct sunlight.
  • Cylinders shall not be stored near corrosive chemicals or fumes.
  • Oxygen cylinders must be stored at least 20 feet away from those containing any fuel gas.
  • Cylinders must not be lifted by machinery unless they are on a safe stand or cradle or are otherwise positively secured against falling or being dropped.
  • Special arrangements will be made to secure cylinders while they are being transported. Carrying them loosely on the back of a truck or in a pickup is prohibited.
  • Do not store or transport acetylene cylinders on their side, as this causes the acetylene to become less stable and unsafe.
  • Close the cylinder valve when the equipment is not in use or unattended overnight.
  • Automatic pressure regulators or reducing valves shall be used on all gas cylinders to maintain a uniform gas supply at the correct pressure. Only regulators listed by agencies such as Underwriters Laboratories® or Factory Mutual should be used. Use only the appropriate, designated regulator for the specific gas to be used.
  • Do not use oil around oxygen gouges, valves or connectors. Follow suppliers recommendations for cleaning of the cylinder outlet fittings and openings.
  • Cylinders containing toxic or flammable gases must be stored in an approved storage area. The use of the smallest possible cylinder of toxic or flammable gases is recommended.
  • Cylinders containing oxidizing gases, such as oxygen and nitrous oxide, shall be stored separately from flammable gases or liquids in accordance with NFPA 55 Standard for Storage, Use and Handling of Compressed and Liquefied Gases in Portable Containers.
  • Smoking and open flames are prohibited near welding gas and oxygen cylinders or outlets.

Handling and Storage of Cylinders without Regulators

  • The valve safety covers must be left on the cylinders until cylinders are secured to walls, benches, or stable pieces of equipment and are required for use.
  • Cylinders must be transferred only by approved carts or hand trucks. They must not be rolled on their sides or dragged. The valve safety covers must be in place and the cylinders secured to the carts during transport.

Acceptance of Cylinders from Vendors

  • The contents of cylinders must be identified with decals, stencils, or other markings on the cylinders. Color codes alone or tags hung around the necks of the cylinders are not acceptable. Cylinders lacking proper identification must not be accepted from the vendors.
  • Cylinders must not be accepted from the vendors unless the valve safety covers are in place and properly tightened.
  • Vendors transporting cylinders must use chain equipped hand trucks or carts. Cylinders must not be rolled on their sides or dragged.

Empty Cylinders

  • A small amount of gas must be left in the cylinders and the cylinder valves must be closed to prevent contamination of the inside of the cylinders.
  • Empty cylinders shall be marked "EMPTY" as well as the department they come from.
  • Valve safety covers and the labels showing contents must be in place.
  • Empty cylinders must be secured at all times so they can not fall.
  • Personnel shall not remove cylinders which are not appropriately marked or which do not have protective valve covers in place, and shall report this to their supervisor.