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Safely Handle Compressed Gas Cylinders Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

How to Safely Handle Compressed Gas Cylinders

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The Compressed Gas Associ­ation publishes an excellent reference3 as well as a large number of pamphlets on specific gases with detailed inform­ation. We will not attempt to cover all the different classes of compressed gases, as that is beyond the scope of this article. What follows are recomm­ended, condensed, general safe-h­andling rules. We strongly encourage anyone who handles cylinders regularly to become very familiar with these.

The requir­ements for manufa­cture of cylinders are detailed in Title 49 Code of Federal Regula­tions, Part 178, Specif­ica­tions for Packaging, referenced below for those who like to get into the details.2 But for our purpose, we just want to point out the important markings that all cylinders should have perman­ently stamped on the shoulder. These should show the Department of Transp­ort­ation specif­ica­tion:
the proper service pressure (in gauge pounds per square inch),
the manufa­ctu­rer’s symbol and serial number,
the owner’s symbol, and, most important for safety,
the date of the initial qualif­ication test & any subsequent tests.
Cylinders need to be retested every five years of service.
In addition to the permanent markings, the cylinder should also have an identi­fying label on the shoulder indicating the cylinder’s contents.

Develop written safe-h­andling procedures

Depending on the specific gas used, safety procedures can become quite complex. For example, extremely hazardous gases may require dedicated ventilated storage cabinets, safety interl­ocks, and elaborate alarm systems.
Consult experts for assist­ance, if necessary.

When accepting full cylinders

Before accepting or receiving compressed gas cylinders, perform a quick inspec­tion.
All cylinders should be shipped with regulators removed and safety caps in place.
Check cylinders for heavy rust or pitting and refuse any questi­onable ones.
Check the certif­ication date(s).
Finally, make sure all cylinders have a durable label that cannot be easily removed and that clearly identifies the contents.

When moving cylinders - Transport with care.

Since vendors usually move cylinders from the supply truck to our storage area, we need to focus on moving them from the storage room directly to the labora­tory. Please do not perform this haphaz­ardly or with a cavalier attitude.
When transp­orting, ensure all cylinders are properly secured. Compressed gas cylinders should be transp­orted only using wheeled carts designed for this purpose.
Make sure safety caps are in place and cylinders are secured to the cart. Common methods include chains, straps, and specialty clamps.
When moving multiple cylinders do not allow them to bang against or strike each other.
Finally, become familiar with the route you will travel and be sure to remove all potential obstacles. If lift gates or ramps are used, enlist a spotter or helper before moving cylinders.

When using cylinders

Double­-check the contents to ensure the material is what you think it is and what the label says it is.
Ensure all cylinders are secured in the work area before making connec­tions. Common methods include chains, straps, and specialty clamps.
Install a proper regulator when in use, and when not in use remove the regulator and install safety caps.
Maintain adequate ventil­ation and temper­ature control for the use area.
Finally, close the valve and purge or release the pressure in the system as approp­riate and follow your written standard operating procedures at the end of each use.

Cylinder storage

Designate a dedicated area for compressed gas cylinder storage, partic­ularly in large facilities and those with high-v­olume use.
Segregate cylinders according to fire codes and compat­ibi­lity. It is important to store by compat­ibility with proper separation between hazard classes. Be sure to check local fire codes, which specify distances and quantities allowed.
Secure cylinders to prevent tipping, falling, and knocking together.
Ensure regulators are removed and safety caps are installed.
Maintain good ventil­ation and temper­ature control.
Lock and secure the area against theft and vandalism.
Locate the cylinder storage area away from emergency exits.
Finally, clearly mark all empty cylinders and segregate these from full cylinders. Empty cylinders should be moved and handled with the same care as full ones and returned to the