To ensure that compressed gas cylinders are managed in a manner that is safe for AU Facilities Management employees in accordance with the requirements established by Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations and the Compressed Gas Association.
Gas under high pressure can be hazardous if not used properly. The combination of the pressure and the nature of the gas may contribute to create a highly hazardous situation that many people fail to realize. Under certain conditions, otherwise harmless gasses can kill. Inert gasses such as argon, helium, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen can asphyxiate a person.
Asphyxiation occurs rapidly and without warning. All possible precautions should be taken to ensure that an adequate breathing air supply is available. Neither respirators nor gas masks supply oxygen. They only filter or purify the air. If asphyxiation is possible, work will be suspended, or the area will be well ventilated and monitored to assure the availability of air suitable for breathing.
When using compressed gasses inside of a confined space, refer to procedures in the AU Facilities Management Confined Space Program for more information.
Top 5 Things to Remember Regarding Compressed Gasses
Asphyxiant gas: A gas, usually inert, that may cause suffocation by displacing the oxygen in the air necessary to sustain life.
Compressed gas: A gas or mixture of gasses having an absolute pressure exceeding 40 psi at 70°F as determined by ASTM D-323-72.
Corrosive gas: A gas that causes visible destruction of, or irreversible alterations in, living tissue by chemical action at the point of contact.
Cryogenic fluid: A refrigerated liquefied gas having a boiling point colder 130°F at normal temperature and pressure, or which the DOT considers a non-flammable, nonpoisonous compressed gas.
Flammable gas: A gas that, at ambient temperature and pressure, forms a flammable mixture with air at a concentration of 12 percent or less by volume.
Oxidizer gas: A gas that is nonflammable but can support and vigorously accelerate combustion in the presence of an ignition source and a fuel.
Toxic gas: A gas that has a median lethal concentration (LC50) in air of 2,000 parts per million or less by volume of gas or, a gas which the DOT considers “Gas Poisonous by Inhalation”, or a gas that has an NFPA Health Hazard Rating of 3 (Toxic) or higher.
Only trained personnel may handle, use, or transport compressed gas cylinders.
The employee responsible for use/installation of the cylinder shall:
The employee shall not:
The supervisor is responsible for:
The Facilities Management Safety Manager will review this program and cylinder inventory on an annual basis, and provide training upon request.
All compressed gasses received, used or stored must be labeled. Each cylinder must be marked by label or tag with the name of its contents. Do not accept cylinders without the appropriate labels. The primary identifier of cylinder contents is the label. Color should not be used to identify contents.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be obtained and maintained near each storage area for all compressed gasses.
Empty cylinders must be marked “EMPTY” or “MT” and stored apart from full cylinders while waiting to be removed.
Rooms, cabinets, or buildings containing compressed gasses must be conspicuously labeled COMPRESSED GAS STORAGE. Cylinder Storage Areas must be prominently posted with the hazard class and the name of the gasses stored.
Inspect cylinders monthly for evidence of leakage. No smoking shall be allowed in the storage area.
Store cylinders in a:
Never store a cylinder in a stairwell (or under stairs) or other area used for egress.
Special care is needed when working with acetylene because it is highly unstable:
Always refer to oxygen, air, and fuel gasses by their correct names. Oxygen is occasionally incorrectly called “air”. Compressed air and oxygen are two very different gasses. Pure oxygen is far more dangerous. It is important that the two are not confused or substituted for each other. High-pressure oxygen supplied to a well-lubricated air tool can cause the lubricant to ignite, damaging the tool and injuring the operator. The reason for this is oil and oxygen can ignite and burn when they come into contact with each other.
Never allow oil or grease to come into contact with oxygen-using equipment, including gloves, torches, regulators, etc.
Never use oxygen to run air tools. Oxygen and other gasses should be used only for their intended purposes.
Never use oxygen to blow out pipelines or to provide ventilation. A spark that is inconsequential in air can be extremely hazardous in an oxygen-enriched environment.
A number of fuel gasses are commonly used: MAPP Gas, propane, propylene, propylene-based mixtures, acetylene, natural gas, liquefied petroleum (LP) gasses, and hydrogen. All of these gases are usually under low pressure except for hydrogen which is often under high pressured.. All fuel gasses are potentially hazardous. They will burn and can explode when mixed with air or oxygen. Following are general rules that apply to all fuel gasses:
Refrigerants present little danger to people if they remain contained in the cylinder or in the system. The hazard occurs when the refrigerant is released from the container or system, often quickly and unexpectedly.
Refrigerants should be handled in well ventilated (preferably open air) locations. If released in a confined space or in large volumes in an interior location, asphyxiation may result.
Injuries can be avoided if regular safety checks are performed. Regular checks on containers and systems for holding pressure should help avoid any injuries when handling refrigerants. Locations that house large volumes of refrigerants have in place monitoring/alarms systems that will activate in the event of a release. These systems should also be checked as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Training on how to handle, use, store compressed gas cylinders is required prior to working with these materials and again if abuse or misuse of compressed gas cylinders is observed. This training is required at least once or when the requirements change.
This training will consist of: procedures and recommended practices on storage and handling of cylinders, cylinder transport, proper labeling and disposal of cylinders.
In the event of a leak or suspected leak of gas, evacuate the building or area by activating the fire alarm by pulling the nearest fire alarm box. Call 911.
If the alarms systems at our utility operations plants sound, evacuate the building by activating the fire alarm, call 911 as you exit – or from the exterior of the building.
A material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each gas should be maintained the work area where the gasses are used. This MSDS shall be provided to the onsite AU Public Safety and Security representative in the event of an emergency resulting from the use, storage, or transportation of the material.