Compressed Gas Cylinders

This page contains basic guidelines and rules to help ensure the safe handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders. Mishandled cylinders may rupture violently, release their hazardous contents or become dangerous projectiles. If a neck of a pressurized cylinder should be accidentally broken off, the energy released would be sufficient to propel the cylinder to over three-quarters of a mile in height. A standard 250 cubic foot cylinder pressurized to 2,500 PSIG can become a rocket attaining a speed of over 30 miles per hour in a fraction of a second after venting from the broken cylinder connection.

Cylinder Storage

  • Store cylinders in an upright position.
  • Compressed gas cylinders should be secured firmly at all times.
  • Keep valve protective caps in place when the cylinder is not in use.
  • Mark empty cylinders EMPTY.
  • Keep valves closed on empty cylinders.
  • Cylinders must be kept away from sources of heat.

Moving Cylinders

  • Regulators shall be removed, valves closed and protective valve caps in place before cylinders are moved.
  • Use a cylinder cart and secure cylinders with a chain.
  • Don't use the protective valve caps for moving or lifting cylinders.
  • Don't drop a cylinder, or permit them to strike each other violently or be handled roughly.

Cylinder Use

  • Be sure all connections are tight. Use soapy water to locate leaks.
  • Keep cylinders valves, regulators, couplings, hose, and apparatus clean and free of oil and grease.
  • Keep cylinders away from open flames and sources of heat.
  • Safety devices and valves shall not be tampered with, or repairs attempted.
  • Use flashback arrestors and reverse-flow check valves to prevent flashback when using oxyfuel systems.
  • Regulators shall be removed when moving cylinders, when work is completed, and when cylinders are empty.
  • Cylinders shall be used and stored in an upright position.
  • The cylinder valve should always be opened slowly. Always stand away from the face and back of the gauge when opening the cylinder valve.
  • When a special wrench is required to open a cylinder or manifold valve, the wrench shall be left in place on the valve stem when in use; this precaution is taken so the gas supply can be shut off quickly in case of an emergency; and that nothing shall be placed on top of a cylinder that may damage the safety device or interfere with the quick closing of the valve.

Cylinder Markings

  • Cylinders must be properly labeled, including the gas identity and appropriate hazards (e.g., health, flammability, reactivity).
  • Cylinders have several stamped markings. The top mark is either a DOT or an ICC marking indicating pertinent regulations for that cylinder. The second mark is the serial number. Under the serial number is the symbol of the manufacturer, user, or purchaser. Of the remaining marks, the numbers represent the date of manufacture, and retest date (month and year). A (+) sign indicates the cylinder may be 10% overcharged, and a star indicates a ten-year test interval.