Compressed Gas Cylinders

The use of compressed gas cylinders is a frequent adjunct to the Laboratory's daily operation. These cylinders contain gases that vary in chemical properties from inert and harmless to toxic and explosive. In addition, the high pressures of these gases constitute a serious hazard in the event that the cylinders are exposed to physical damage and/or high temperatures.

What do I need to know?

Identification

Compressed gas cylinders shall be legibly marked, with either the chemical or trade name of the gas, for the purpose of identifying gas content. Cylinders shall be marked with stencil, stamp, or securely attached label. Whenever practical, the marking shall be on the shoulder of the cylinder. Markings, labels, decals, tags, or stencil marks used for the identification of contents shall not be defaced. No marks or numbers stamped into a cylinder shall be changed or obliterated.
While not required by regulations, workers are highly encouraged to position cylinders in a way that allows easy identification of the cylinder contents.

Usage

Compressed gas cylinders shall be inspected by the user prior to and during use to determine that cylinders are in a safe condition for use. Inspect for corrosion, valve damage or leaks, evidence of tampering, etc. Never use a flame to detect flammable gas leaks.
Valve caps should be kept in place at all times to protect the valve stem -- the weakest part of the cylinder. Valve caps should only be removed when a cylinder is attached to a distribution apparatus (such as a regulator) and the system is in use.

Storage

Where gases of different types are stored at the same location, cylinders should be grouped by types of gas, and the groups arranged to take into account the types of gas contained, e.g., flammable gases shall not be stored next to oxidizing gases.

When oxygen and a fuel gas such as acetylene are to be stored, they shall be separated by a distance of twenty feet or by a non-combustible barrier at least five-feet high having a fire-resistance rating of one-half hour.

Cylinders shall not be stored near highly flammable or combustible substances, shall not be exposed to sparks or flames, and shall not be located where they could become part of an electrical circuit.

Charged and empty cylinders shall be stored separately. Old stock should be stored in an accessible area so as to be removed first. Empty cylinders shall have their valves closed.

Cylinders shall not be stored on two or three wheeled carts. Four wheeled carts may be used for storage of cylinders if the cart is in a stable position with all wheels on the ground.

Securing

Cylinders shall be secured to fixed structures or to movable carts in the case of gas, welding, or cutting apparatus.

Cylinders shall be secured by the body, at two-thirds the height of the cylinder, and not by the valve.

Cylinders shall be secured by one of the following methods, depending on size and use:
  • Safety chain secured with a hook that will prevent the accidental release of cylinder.
  • Nylon strap and buckle assembly with attachment fixture. This item is specially designed to restrain portable gas cylinders.
  • A cradle with indentations designed to accommodate gas cylinders in a horizontal position.
  • An upright storage box with individual cells designed to hold several cylinders at one time.

Training

Compressed gas cylinders should be handled only by personnel who have completed the PPPL Training course, “Compressed Gas and Cryogenics Safety”.
The study materials and test can be found here.

Additional Information

Additional information can be found in ESHD 5008, Section 9, Chapter 2.