OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

COMPRESSED GASES & GAS CYLINDERS
Introduction: Many industrial and laboratory operations require the use of compressed gases for a variety of different operations. Compressed gases present a unique hazard. Depending on the particular gas, there is a potential for simultaneous exposure to both mechanical and chemical hazards. Gases may be:  Flammable or combustible  Explosive  Corrosive  Poisonous  Inert  Or a combination of hazards. Definitions: Oxidizing Gas: A gas that can support and accelerate combustion of other materials. Pyrophoric Gas: A gas that will spontaneously ignite in air at or below a temperature of 130º F (54.4º C). Cryogenic Liquid: A liquid having a boiling point lower than - 150º F (- 101º C) at 14.7 psia. Toxic Gases: A gas having a health hazard rating of 3 or 4 as defined in NFPA-704. Hazards of Compressed Gases: aPhysical Hazards: Compressed gases have potentially serious physical hazards because they are under high pressure. If that pressure is released suddenly through a broken valve, a gas cylinder can fly out of control. This unguided missile can travel through walls.

1

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

bChemical Hazards: Gases are chemicals, so they have chemical hazards. Keep flammable and explosive gases, such as hydrogen, propane, and acetylene, away from sparks, flames, and other sources. Chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia, hydrogen chloride and nitric oxide are corrosive or reactive, keep them away from all incompatible chemicals. cHealth Hazards: Gases also have health hazards. Inhalation is the most common route of entry. Corrosive gases can burn or irritate the lining of the respiratory tract. Others, such as hydrogen cyanide or carbon monoxide, can enter the bloodstream and bind with hemoglobin to prevent it from picking up oxygen. Some gases irritate skin. Even "inert" gases, such as helium or nitrogen, are hazardous. They displace breathable air. Hazard Controls: ⇒ Color coding of cylinders. ⇒ Cylinder inspection. ⇒ Employee training. ⇒ Properly designed storage areas. ⇒ Segregation of empty & full cylinders. ⇒ Segregation of incompatible gasses. ⇒ Use of correct pressure regulators. Safe Storage, Transport, and Handling of Compressed Gas: The outward appearance of a compressed gas cylinder is deceptive. The average standard size cylinder is pressurized at 2200 pounds per square inch. These cylinders are safe under normal use; however, serious accidents have resulted from the misuse, abuse, or improper handling of compressed gases. The following principles must be adhered to for safe storage, use, and transportation of compressed gas cylinders.
2

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

1. Use cylinders in an upright position, unless equipment manufacturer provides specific instructions otherwise. 2. All compressed gas cylinders in service must be securely held upright. Fasten them with an approved restraint device to rigid structure so they will not fall or be knocked over. They must be secured at a point approximately 2/3 of its height.

3. Cylinders must be secured individually, i.e. one restraint per cylinder. 4. Turn all valves off when not in use. Always release pressure from regulator before disconnecting. 5. Do not modify relief valves. 6. Know the contents, properties, and health hazards associated with the contents. Contents must be clearly labeled. 7. Check to make sure that a label is attached or the identification of the contents is stenciled on the cylinder when a cylinder is brought to you.

3

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

8. Do not accept a cylinder if the contents are not clearly identified. Do not rely on color coding to identify the contents of a gas cylinder; color coding is not standardized. 9. Locate cylinders away from pedestrian traffic areas. Make sure they are in a well ventilated location. Keep cylinders out of the direct sun and do not allow them to be heated. 10.When cylinders are not being used, the valve protection cap must be in place to protect the valve.

11. Never store cylinders of flammable gases (empty or full) near cylinders of oxygen or other oxidizers. A minimum separation of 20 feet or specially designed separation wall must be maintained.

12.Never store cylinders in a means of egress. 13.Clearly mark "empty" cylinders with tag or sign. Separate "empty" and "full" cylinders to avoid confusion and do not store empty cylinders in your laboratory. 14.Never roll or drag full or empty cylinders. Preferred transport method is to secure cylinders (with valve covers in place) to a hand truck or similar mode of transport.
4

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

15.Cylinders must be hydrostatically tested every 10 years. The date of each test must be stamped on the cylinder. Acetylene cylinders are not tested hydrostatically. 16. Keep amount of flammable gases to a minimum. The number of flammable gas cylinders (10" x 50") must not exceed 3 cylinders per 500 square feet in a non-sprinkled building or 6 cylinders per 500 square feet in sprinkled building. 17.Treat "empty" cylinders with same respect as "full" cylinders. 18.Use safety glasses when using compressed gas, use face shield & other required PPE for cryogenic gases.

19.Do not vent flammable gases inside a building. 20.Check regulators for damage, and check all hoses before use.

21.If a bottle valve leaks, take outdoors and slowly empty bottle.
5

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

22.Open cylinder valves slowly, and never fully open cylinder valves. 23.Do not completely empty a cylinder. A slight pressure prevents contamination. A completely emptied cylinder must be purged before it can be refilled. (not less than 25 psi residual pressure). 24.Leaks may develop without warning. Do not use oil-contaminated regulators with oxygen or other oxidizers; this create a fire hazard. 25.The cylinder should be placed so that the valve handle at the top is easily accessible at all times. 26.If using a toxic or irritating gas, the valve should be opened only while the cylinder is in a working fume hood and even so, it would also be prudent to direct the valve and potential gas flow away from lab personnel. 27.Never heat the cylinder to raise the pressure of the gas. 28.All gas lines leading from a compressed gas supply should be clearly labeled to identify the gas, the laboratory or the area served. 29.Signs should be conspicuously posted in areas where flammable compressed gases are stored, identifying the substances and appropriate precautions. 30.Under no circumstances should any attempt be made to repair a cylinder or valve. 31.Standard cylinder-valve outlet connections have been devised to prevent mixing of incompatible gases. The outlet treads used vary in diameter; some are internal, some are external; some are righthanded, some are left-handed. 32.Cylinders are equipped with either a hand wheel or stem valve. For cylinders equipped with a stem valve, the valve spindle key should remain on the stem while the cylinder is in service. At no time should pliers be used to open a cylinder valve. 33.Cylinders containing flammable gases such as hydrogen or acetylene must not be stored in close proximity to open flames, areas where electrical sparks are generated, or where other source of ignition may be present. 34.After the regulator is attached, the cylinder valve should be opened just enough to indicate pressure on the regulator gauge (no more than one full turn) and all the connections checked with a soap solution for leaks. Never use oil or grease on the regulator of a cylinder valve. 35.Copper piping shall not be used for acetylene. 36.Use 30 psi or less when using compressed air for cleaning.
6

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

37.Never use old clips or twisted wire for hose connections. If a hose works loose and fails around, serious injury could result. Poor hose connections are common cause of accidents. 38.Acetylene under pressure can explode. Never use acetylene outside of the cylinder at a pressure over 15 psig. Cylinder Safety Devices: Most cylinders have one or more safety-relief devices. These devices can prevent rupture of the cylinder if internal pressure builds up to levels exceeding design limits. Pressure can become dangerously high if a cylinder is exposed to fire or heat, including high storage temperature. There are three types of safety-relief devices. Each relieves excessive gas pressures in a different way: 1. Safety- or Pressure - Relief Valves: These valves are usually a part of the cylinder. They are normally held closed by a spring. The valve opens if the cylinder pressure exceeds the set safety limit. Gas is released until the cylinder pressure drops back to the safety limit, the valve then closes and retains the remaining gas in the cylinder. 2. Rupture Discs: These discs are usually made of metal. They burst at a certain pressure, releasing the gas in the cylinder. The bursting pressure is designed so that the disc ruptures before the cylinder test pressure is reached. These devices cannot be reclosed, so the entire contents of the cylinder are released. 3. Fusible Plugs: Temperature, not pressure, activates fusible plugs. These safety devices are used where heat could initiate an explosive chemical reaction. A pressure-relief valve or rupture disc acts too slowly and too late to prevent rupture of the cylinder if an explosive reaction has already begun. The fusible plug releases the gas before the hazardous reaction can begin. Fusible plugs are made of metals that melts at low temperatures. For example, acetylene cylinders have a fusible plug which melts at about 100º C (212º F). This temperature is safely below the temperature at which hazardous polymerization may occur.
7

OSHA

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Not all compressed gas cylinders have safety devices. Some gases are so toxic that their release through a safety device would be more hazardous than cylinder rupture or explosion. Cylinders for these gases are built to withstand higher pressures than normal cylinders. When these "toxic gas" cylinders are involved in a fire, the area must be evacuated.

8