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Compressed Gas Safety

Pressurized containers of compressed gas cause around 5,000 injuries requiring time away from work, and kill about a dozen people each year.

While common in many industrial settings, you have to respect the dangers these containers present and understanding safe handling.

So what are some things you should keep in mind when working with compressed gas containers?

Let me tell you.

  • 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.
  • Do not rely on the color of the cylinder for identification.
    • Color coding is not reliable because cylinder colors may vary with supplier, and because these containers are reused. Also, do not rely on the cylinder cap label because the caps are interchangeable. If the cylinder label becomes unclear, mark the cylinder “contents unknown” and return it to the supplier—it’s just safer that way.
    • Don’t let convenience cause problems for you when working with a vendor.
  • Before using compressed gas cylinders, you should take two basic precautions.
    • First, you should be working in a well-ventilated area.
    • Second, make sure the cylinder is equipped with the correct regulator; check the regulator and cylinder valves for grease, oil, dirt, or solvent, and either remove what you find or do not use the contaminated component.
  • Another important thing to remember is to...
    • Never use compressed oxygen as a sub for compressed air to run pneumatic tools, in oil heating burners, to start internal combustion engines, to blow out pipelines, to dust off clothing or equipment, or to create pressure for ventilation. Do not smoke when oxygen and fuel gases are present as a fire could result.

Last, but not least, store compressed gas cylinders in a well-ventilated, cool, dry area. Be sure that cylinders are stored where they are protected from unauthorized access and are protected from the elements.

Until next time, stay positive and stay safe.