Environmental Health and Safety

Effective Date: 11/03/00

Policy Statement 5: Compressed Gases - Use and Storage


The use of compressed gases on campus will be in accordance with recommendations published by the Compressed Gas Association.

The following rules summarize a few of the basic guidelines for the use and storage of compressed gases:

Support Required

  1. Compressed gas cylinders must be supported at all times, whether full or empty. Acceptable methods of support include:

Valve Protective Cover

  1. Gas cylinders must have the valve protection cover in place except when in use.

  2. Smoking is not permitted in the area where flammable gases are used or stored.


  1. Gas cylinders must be used in an upright position and clamped securely at all times. Due to the extreme hazards created by using certain cylinders in a horizontal position (e.g., acetylene), approval must be obtained from the Environmental Health and Safety Office for use of cylinders in any position other than vertical, with the valve up.

Movement of Cylinders

  1. Appropriate dollies or hand trucks must be used to move cylinders weighing more than 50 pounds. Movement by spinning, sliding, rolling, etc., is prohibited. For movement within shops and laboratories, cylinders weighing less than 50 pounds may be carried if desired.

Toxic and Poisonous Gases

  1. Toxic and poisonous gases must be used only in fume hoods or other enclosures vented directly outdoors. Appropriate first aid and antidote information and supplies must be provided and clearly marked at room entrance.


  1. Pressure regulators and gauges must be compatible with the cylinder valves, i.e., the use of adapters is prohibited.


NOTE: All oxygen valves, gauges, regulators, pipes, and fittings must be scrupulously free of oil, grease, graphite, or any other oxidizable substance. Such pipes, gauges, fittings, etc., must at no time be allowed to come to an elevated temperature due to proximity to welding operations, burners, or other heat sources. Although oxygen is quite safe under normal temperatures and pressures, elevated temperatures and/or pressures, or contamination, may result in the rapid and violent oxidation of normally non-reactive materials. For example, a regulator used on oil-pumped nitrogen could produce a serious explosion if subsequently used for oxygen, due to the oil residue.

More Information

Detailed information is available from the Environmental Health and Safety Office on Compressed Gas Association literature, compressed gas data sheets, and the recommended first aid and medical treatment for exposure to toxic gases.