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Compressed Gas Overview

Learning Objectives

  • Identify hazards associated with cylinder dispensing, control components, and contents.
  • Recall practices to safely use compressed gas cylinders and their components.
  • Identify safe methods of moving and storing compressed gas cylinders.

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The purpose of this lesson is to address the hazards inherent in compressed gas and provide best practices for using, moving, and storing compressed gas containers.

In order to recognize the hazards posed by compressed gas cylinders, you must first be able to recognize the specific parts of the cylinder and have a general knowledge of how these things work. Compressed gas cylinders can pose the hazard of an explosion when the metal pressure vessel fails. A common factor in that scenario is the misuse or abuse of the cylinder or valve while it is under pressure. Another hazard is the sudden release of pressure from the cylinder, as mentioned above.

Compressed gas cylinders may contain many types of gases. Some of the more common gases used in pressure cylinders include those that are combustible, flammable and/or explosive, poisonous, or that are corrosive, reactive, or inert. Compressed gas cylinders could also contain gases that share a combination of some of these characteristics. It is important to know what is inside, so accurate labeling, marking, and dating are each critical precautions for safety.

Only properly trained personnel with the appropriate personal protective equipment should handle compressed gas cylinders because the release of these gases could result in injury or death from fire, explosion or exposure. If you are using compressed gases, you must be trained in the safe use of pressurized systems and the materials they contain. You should also be trained in all elements of your company's Hazard Communication Program and in the hazards and precautions associated with the materials you are using.

Before working with a compressed gas cylinder, always read the label. Make sure you know what’s in it, what you’re working with. The contents of any compressed gas cylinder must be clearly identified. Don’t accept a cylinder for use that does not legibly identify the contents.

Gas identification may be stenciled or stamped on the cylinder. Gas may also be identified on a label that is solidly attached to the cylinder. Commercially available tag systems may also be used for identification.

Regulations
  • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication 2007-107
  • PHMSA— DOT, 49 CFR 173.301 - General requirements for shipment of compressed gases and other hazardous materials in cylinders, UN pressure receptacles and spherical pressure vessels.
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 20CFR 1910.
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 20CFR 1910., Subpart H, Sections, 1910.101 1910.102 1910.103 1910.104 1910.105 1910.110
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 20CFR 1910, Subpart M, Section 1910.169
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 20CFR 1910, Subpart Q, Sections 1910.253 and 1919.254
  • Compressed Gas Association, Pamphlet P-1 2008 Safe Handling of Compressed Gases in Containers
  • National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) 55—Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code