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16.4.1 Safe Storage and Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders

General Requirements

  • Restrain cylinders of all sizes by straps, chains, or a suitable stand to prevent them from falling;
  • Keeps cylinders in storage upright, secure, and interlocked into a compact group;
  • Do not use compressed gases in occupiable environmental chambers, cold rooms, or other similar stand-alone units. These typically do not provide outside air ventilation;
  • Keep cylinders capped and the regulator off when not in use;
  • Keep cylinders labeled with a full/in-use/empty tag.
  • The contents of any compressed gas cylinder must be clearly identified. Labels on cylinders may be stenciled, stamped, or a label or tag attached to the cylinder. Do not rely on the color of the cylinder for identification because color-coding is not standardized and may vary with the manufacturer or supplier.
  • For short term experiments using hazardous gases, always select the smallest returnable cylinder available. In cases where the gas will be used over an extended period of time (several months to more than one year), you should order a gas quantity that will last for three to six months;
  • Some small cylinders, such as lecture bottles and cylinders of highly toxic gases, are not fitted with rupture devices and may explode if exposed to high temperatures;
  • Do not store or use incompatible gases next to each other;
    • Cylinders of oxygen must be stored at least 20 feet away from cylinders of any flammable gas.
    • Isolate them by storing in a gas cabinets.
  • Segregate full cylinders of low hazard gases from "empty" cylinders awaiting return to the vendor;
  • Do not expose cylinders to temperatures higher than 50 ˚C (125 ˚F);
  • Never place cylinders where they may become part of an electric circuit;
  • Corrosive gases should be returned to the gas supplier within one year to avoid regulator and cylinder valve problems due to corrosion;
  • Avoid areas that are damp or subject to other corrosive materials;
  • When transporting cylinders:
    • Always use a hand truck equipped with a chain or belt for securing the cylinder. Full size cylinders weigh up to 300 pounds. 
    • Make sure the protective cap covers the cylinder valve. 
    • Never transport a cylinder while a regulator is attached.
  • Avoid riding in elevators with compressed gas cylinders. If this is necessary, consider using a buddy system to have one person send the properly secured cylinders on the elevator, while the other person waits at the floor by the elevator doors where the cylinders will arrive. 
  • Do not move compressed gas cylinders by carrying, rolling, sliding, or dragging them across the floor. 
  • Do not transport oxygen and combustible gases at the same time. 
  • Do not drop cylinders or permit them to strike anything violently.