Compressed Gas Cylinder Safety

Compressed gas cylinders pose mechanical, physical, inhalation, and/or other health hazards if used carelessly. Falling cylinders can cause damage to lab equipment, exposure to toxic, corrosive, or flammable gases, and personal injury.

Here are tips for working with compressed gas cylinders:

  • Secure them to a wall or vertical support by means of restraining straps or chains.
  • When moving cylinders, use a cylinder cart with a chain restraint in place.
  • Valve-protection caps should be installed on cylinders at all times when not in use.
  • Cylinders should never be dropped, rolled, or carried in a horizontal position.
  • Cylinders should never be used as rollers for moving equipment.
  • If a cylinder or cylinder valve is leaking, call EHS.
  • NEVER stick anything into the cylinder cap holes in an attempt to loosen the cap.
  • Use an adjustable strap wrench to remove stuck caps.
  • If the cap is still difficult to remove, attach a tag or label to the cylinder identifying the problem and return the cylinder to the supplier.
  • Wrenches should not be used on valves equipped with a handwheel. If the valve is difficult to operate or faulty, contact your supplier.

In addition, liquid nitrogen cylinders that release their contents can purge an area of oxygen. Never enter a room if a liquid nitrogen cylinder releases its contents and do not ride on an elevator that is transporting a liquid nitrogen cylinder.

Common findings relevant to compressed gas cylinder safety:

Compressed gases not properly capped while stored: 

Cylinder regulators must be removed when not in use, and protective shipping caps must be replaced. Store only cylinders needed for immediate use in the lab; excess inventory should be stored in loading dock cages or ordered as needed. 

Compressed gases not secured/gas cylinders not properly secured: 

Compressed gas cylinders must be secured to a wall, bench mount, floor bracket, or other stable fixture to prevent falling. Protective valve caps must be tightly in place when regulators are not in use. Many vendors provide fixtures and mounting units. Have your department administrator contact Facilities Management at (410) 706-7570 to have mounting fixtures installed (Facilities Management will not provide these).