Compressed Gases


Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are intended to provide you with general guidance on how to safely work with a specific class of chemical or hazard.  This SOP is generic in nature.  It addresses the use and handling of substances by hazard class only.  In some instances multiple SOPs may be applicable for a specific chemical (i.e. both the SOPs for flammable liquids and carcinogens would apply to benzene).  If you have any questions concerning the applicability of any items listed in this procedure, contact EH&S 1-2356 or the Principal Investigator of your lab. Specific written procedures are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator.


Securing of gas


Cylinders of compressed gases must be handled as high-energy sources.  They pose a serious hazard if the cylinder valve is dislodged.  When storing or moving a cylinder, have the cap securely in place to protect the stem.  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.



Procedures:    See Science Facility Emergency Procedures



Protection:      Eye protection in the form of safety glasses must be worn at all times when handling compressed gases.  Ordinary (prescription) glasses do not provide adequate protection. Adequate safety glasses must meet rigorous tests and safety standards according to ANSI Z.87.1 and must be equipped with side shields.  Safety glasses with side shields do not provide protection from splashes, therefore, when the potential for splash hazard exists, other eye protection or face protection must be worn.


Fume hood:     Manipulation of compressed gases should be carried out in a fume hood if the compressed gas is an irritant, oxidizer, asphyxiant, or has other hazardous properties.



Assessment:   Hazard assessment for work with compressed gas should focus on proper use and handling procedures; that all pressurized equipment is properly shielded; regulators are not interchanged between different gas types; all hose connections are properly secured and are appropriate for the pressure(s) used


Apparel:          Lab coats, closed toed shoes and long sleeved clothing should be worn when handling compressed gases.



Shielding:        Safety shielding is required any time there is a risk of explosion, splash hazard or a highly exothermic reaction.  All manipulations of compressed gases that pose this risk should occur in a fume hood with the sash in the lowest feasible

position.  Portable shields, which provide protection to all laboratory occupants, are acceptable.


Labels:            Containers: All compressed gases must be clearly labeled with the correct chemical name.  Handwritten labels are acceptable; chemical formulas and structural formulas are not acceptable. The compressed gas cylinder should be labeled to indicate if the container is full or empty.



Response:       In the event of a spill or large release of a compressed gas that is an irritant, oxidizer, asphyxiant, or has other hazardous properties, all personnel in the area should be alerted.  Vacate the laboratory immediately and call for assistance.

                        See Science Facility Emergency Procedure 


Disposal:         All empty or partially filled compressed gas cylinders should be returned to the supplier. Contact Roger Clark for further information.