Compressed Gas Safety-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, November 7, 2014

Compressed Gas Safety

gas tanksIt has been a while since I have discussed this topic, and, given the recent spate of compressed gas issues arising in our laboratory inspections, I thought it would be a good time to refresh us.

Also, please remember that there is a recommended on-line safety training module for compressed gas use on our web site, at:

1.    Compressed gas cylinders shall be stored and secured in an upright position
2.    In areas of gas cylinder storage, cylinders shall be segregated according to their hazard properties.  (Our typical problem occurs with oxygen being stored next to flammable gases.)  When more than one cylinder is stored together, cylinders shall be kept tightly nested and secured with straps or chains.
3.    For cylinders not equipped with a valve shut-off device, a wrench shall be provided and kept on the valve at all times to permit rapid emergency shut-off.
4.    Cylinders shall be stored with the protective valve cap in place.  No cylinder shall be stored with the regulator still installed.
5.    Cylinders of compressed gases should be securely strapped or chained to a wall or bench top.
6.    Close the gas cylinder at the top of the tank when not in use—do not rely on the regulator for this purpose.
7.    All compressed gas cylinders and chemical containers should be stored away from heat sources and direct sunlight.
8.    Only use regulators and equipment (especially with regard to materials to be used for lines and fittings) that are approved for the gas being handled.
9.    Cylinder handling will be performed using equipment appropriate for the task, i.e., cylinder hand carts.
10.    Wherever toxic gases are present, special precautions are needed to ensure safe usage.  This may include detection and alarms, as well as gas cabinets with fire protection.  Typical toxic gases include carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and silane.
11.    Wherever hydrogen is present, all tubing must be of braided stainless steel hose.  Alternative tubing materials will be approved by EH&S on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that the alternative meets fire protection requirements.
12.    Always use caution when placing any compressed gas cylinder in an enclosed area.  A leak of even an inert gas can quickly displace sufficient oxygen to cause suffocation of a person within that area.

By: Mark Banister,, 412-268-1493