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Environmental Health and Safety - Compressed Gas Cylinders

Compressed Gas Cylinders

Compressed gases can be flammable, oxidizing, corrosive, toxic, inert or a combination of hazards.  Fire, explosion, chemical burns, asphyxiation, poisoning, and frostbite could occur if gases accidentally escape from the cylinder due to mishandling.There are also hazards from the pressure of the gas and the physical weight of the cylinder. Cylinders containing compressed gases are heavy and awkward to move. Improper handling of compressed gas cylinders can result in sprains, strains, falls, bruises, or broken bones. The cylinder can itself become a missile if the cylinder valve is broken off.  Appropriate care in the handling, use and storage of compressed gas cylinders is essential to prevent serious injury.


  • Use compressed gases in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep the cylinder valve closed except when in use.
  • Never tamper with pressure relief devices in valves or cylinders.
  • Keep cylinders upright and away from heat, sparks, fire, physical damage, or electrical circuits to avoid rupture.
  • Never remove any product labels or shipping hazard labels, even if the cylinder is empty.


  • Avoid dropping, dragging or sliding cylinders. When moving cylinders, use a suitable hand truck or cart equipped with a chain or belt for securing the cylinder to the cart, even for short distances.
  • Cylinder caps should be left on each cylinder until it has been secured against a wall or bench or placed in a cylinder stand, and is ready for installation of the regulator.
  • Position cylinders so that the cylinder valve is accessible at all times.
  • Where more than one type of gas is in use, label gas lines. This is particularly important when the gas supply is not in the same room or area as the operation using the gases.Please don't attempt to catch a falling cylinder; just get out of the way.


  • Attach the closed regulator to the cylinder. Never open the cylinder valve unless the regulator is completely closed. Regulators are specific to the gas involved. A regulator should be attached to a cylinder without forcing the threads. Ensure the threads of both the regulator and main valve are clean. If the inlet of a regulator does not fit the cylinder outlet, no effort should be made to try to force the fitting. A poor fit may indicate that the regulator is not intended for use on the gas chosen.
  • When discharging gas into a liquid, a trap or suitable check valve should be used to prevent liquid from getting back into the cylinder or regulator.
  • Open the cylinder slowly until the inlet gauge on the regulator registers the cylinder pressure. If the cylinder pressure reading is lower than expected, the cylinder valve may be leaking.
  • With the flow control valve at the regulator outlet closed, turn the delivery pressure adjusting screw until the required delivery pressure is reached.
  • Check for leaks using Snoop or soap solution. At or below freezing temperatures, use a glycerin and water solution, such as Snoop, rather than soap.
  • When finished with the gas, close the cylinder valve, release the regulator pressure and replace the gas cap if it will not be used in the near future.


  • All cylinders must be secured to a wall, bench or fixed support using a chain or strap placed 2/3 of the way up. Cylinder stands are an alternative to straps.
  • Cylinders should not be stored with a regulator attached. Secure the proper gas cap to the threaded portion on the top of the cylinder to protect the valve.
  • Do not store full and empty cylinders together.
  • Oxidizers and flammable gases should be stored in areas separated by at least 20 feet or by a noncombustible wall.
  • Cylinders should not be stored near radiators or other heat sources. If storage is outdoors, protect cylinders from weather extremes and damp ground to prevent corrosion.
  • No part of a cylinder should be subjected to a temperature higher than 125oF. A flame should never be permitted to come in contact with any part of a compressed gas cylinder.
  • Do not place cylinders where they may become part of an electric circuit.
  • Keep the number of cylinders in a single area to a minimum to reduce the fire and toxicity hazards.
  • Lecture bottles should always be returned to the distributor or manufacturer promptly when no longer needed.
  • NEVER place acetylene cylinders on their side.


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 Last Modified 2/8/18