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Many operations at NOAA facilities require the use of compressed gas cylinders. Personnel responsible for compressed gas cylinders must be familiar with the hazardous properties of gases and follow the basic safety requirements as outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. OSHA regulations refer to specific Compressed Gas Association (CGA) educational materials, while DOT regulations cover the transportation of compressed gases by rail, highway, aircraft and waterway.

Compressed gas cylinders pose unique hazards because they contain gases under pressure-therein such cylinders may rupture if not handled or stored with special care. Labels on the cylinders and material safety data sheet (MSDS) provide information about the hazardous properties of gases. There is always a potential for mechanical and chemical hazards that depend on particular conditions such as proprieties of the gases and the pressure in the cylinders. Gases may be flammable, combustible, corrosive, oxidizing, poisonous, or inert. Careful procedures are necessary for handling the various compressed gases in cylinders. The proper handling of compressed gas cylinders (general requirement) is referenced in OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1910.101. The following are some general procedures for safe handling and storage of compressed gas cylinders.

  • Contents of any compressed gas cylinder must be identified and labeled properly. Visual inspection is important to ensure that they are in good and safe conditions.
  • Gas cylinders must be secured at all time to prevent tipping, falling, or rolling.
  • Leaking cylinders must be reported and moved to a safe place.
  • Periodic surveillance of cylinders in storage areas must be done. Deficiencies discovered must be corrected immediately.
  • Store cylinders in areas specified or designated for this purpose. The area must be well-ventilated and away from heat sources.
  • Store and move cylinders in an upright position and secured with either chains or cables.
  • Use hands to open and close valves; in case there is a difficulty in opening a valve, contact supplier or vendor.
  • Empty cylinders must be labeled or marked as "empty". Do not refill an empty cylinder.
  • Never smoke in the vicinity of compressed gas cylinders.
  • Cylinders must not be dropped or allowed to fall.


  1. 29 CFR 1910.101
  2. Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR parts 171-180)(HMR)



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