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Compressed Gas Transport and Use


What Is the Scope of This Guideline?


This guideline identifies general safety precautions that should be reviewed and followed when dealing with compressed-gas cylinders at Brandeis. The MSDS for specific gases should be reviewed to identify and understand the hazards for those gases prior to use. MSDS for Airgas cylinders can be found at www.airgas.com/content/msds.aspx.

What Hazards Can I Be Exposed To?

  • Impact from falling cylinders (keep them secure)
  • Fire and explosion
  • Poisoning
  • Asphyxiation (displacing oxygen)
  • Overexposure
  • Frostbite or gas injection under skin
  • Hazards from broken cylinder heads

Cylinder Transport and Storage

When transporting high- and low-pressure cylinders, an approved cart must be used. The cylinder cap must be in place and secure (DO NOT transport any cylinder with a regulator attached). Ensure that cylinder straps are secure on the cart if provided. Use a cylinder cart!

Cylinders of compressed gases pose a significant hazard if the valve is damaged or broken off, and they must be handled as high-energy sources. The cylinder cap MUST be in place and secure when storing (when not in use) or moving a cylinder. Use suitable racks, straps, chains or stands to support cylinders. Do not store cylinders or lecture bottles with the regulator in place. If the regulator fails, the entire contents of the gas cylinder may be discharged.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Ensure that empty and full bottles are labeled and separated
  • Caps are installed
  • Store upright and away from heat sources
  • Store in areas that are dry and well ventilated
  • Ensure that oxygen cylinders are stored separately
  • Ensure that cylinders are chained or strapped to prevent tipping
  • No smoking around storage or use areas
  • Fuel gas and oxygen stored a minimum of 20 feet apart or separated by a one-hour fire wall
  • Ensure straps and clamps are in good condition 

Handling Emergencies Involving Compressed Gas

All staff should be made aware of emergency notification procedures related to compressed-gas emergencies. In the event of a release or potential for release or for personal injury, fire, explosion or other hazard, contact University Police at 63333.  The university police will notify the appropriate parties, including the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (ext. 6-4262).

Prior to use of any compressed gas, be aware of the location and use of emergency equipment, including first-aid kits, eyewash stations and showers, fire-pull stations and fire extinguishers.

Plans should also be established in each area to identify gas controls. Attempts to isolate and shut off compressed gasses in an emergency should only be done without risk to Brandeis students, staff or faculty.

The department ordering compressed gases is responsible for ensuring that a Material Safety Data Sheet is provided to the the Department of Environmental Health and Safety prior to the receipt of the gas on campus.

Engineering and Administrative Controls

Engineering Controls

  • Gas cylinder storage areas
  • Flow restrictors
  • Leak monitors
  • Fume hoods
  • Ventilation systems
  • Sprinkler systems

Administrative Controls

  • Inspections
  • Employee training
  • Segregation of gas containers
  • Inspections and audits
  • Signs and labels
  • Personal protective equipment use
  • Identification of authorized employees
  • Procedures for receipt, use and storage

How Do I Protect Myself?

Ensure that you review the MSDS for any compressed gas if you are not familiar with its potential hazards.

Follow that handling and transport guidelines in this document.

Use proper personal protective equipment when handling cylinders of cryogenic materials (see Guideline #23).

Waste Disposal Requirements

Contact the Hazardous Waste Hotline at ext. 6-2561 or the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at ext. 6-4262 if you have any compressed-gas cylinders for disposal.