Compressed Gases

The discussion of compressed gases that follows does not apply to compressed air used to operate and service equipment, which will be covered under a separate topic (compressed air and compressed air equipment). It does apply to compressed air used for air-supplying respirators.

A compressed gas is any material or mixture that, when enclosed in a container, has an absolute pressure exceeding 40 p.s.i. at 70 deg F or, regardless of pressure at 70 deg F, exceeds 140 p.s.i. at 130 deg F.

[Source: The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Ninth Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company]

Compressed Gases

Tab/Accordion Items

What are the hazards associated with compressed gases?

The physical hazards associated with compressed gases are primarily those due to pressure and flammability. An unsecured compressed gas cylinder can easily become a dangerous projectile when improperly used or stored. In addition, compressed gases such as oxygen, which promotes combustion, and fuel gases, such as acetylene, can result in fires when improperly used and stored.

The health hazards associated with compressed gases arise from the creation of unsafe atmospheres for breathing. Release of asphyxiating gases, such as nitrogen, displace oxygen and can create oxygen-deficient atmospheres in small work areas with little or no ventilation. Other compressed gases can result in exposures to toxic chemicals above their permissible limits.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Never move a compressed gas cylinder by dragging it across the floor.
  • Ensure that cylinders are secured and in an upright position when in use.
  • Cylinders not in use should always have their valve covers on.
  • Never use a wrench or any other tool to open a compressed gas cylinder.
  • Make sure that charged compressed gas cylinders are stored separate from empty cylinders.
  • Always locate and secure cylinders so that exit paths and exit doors are not blocked.
  • Make sure that all cylinders are labeled to show their contents.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

The workplace self-inspection checklist can be used to assist employers to evaluate their workplace and the use of compressed gas cylinders and equipment in their work areas. The example programs on hazard communication and respiratory protection can be customized to fit workplace conditions and equipment.

Training and Education

The example presentations on hazard communication and  respiratory protection are available and can assist employers in training their staff. The presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards and should include compressed gases used at their locations.

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Further, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including a streaming video service) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

A-Z safety and health topic pages on hazard communication, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection can provide more resource information. 

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to compressed gases in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

  • 29 CFR 1910.101 - compressed gases, general requirements - incorporates by reference the following:

    • Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet C-6-1968 - Standards for Visual Inspection of Compressed Gas Cylinders
    • Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet C-8-1962 - Standard for Requalification of ICC-3HT Cylinders

    • Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet P-1-1965 - Safe Handling of Compressed Gases

    • Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet S-1.1-1963 and 1965 addenda - Safety Release Device Standards-Cylinders for Compressed Gases

    • Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet S-1.2-1963 - Safety Release Device Standards, Cargo and Portable Tanks for Compressed Gases

  • 29 CFR 1910.102 - acetylene

  • 29 CFR 1910.103 - hydrogen

  • 29 CFR 1910.104 - oxygen

  • 29 CFR 1910.105 - nitrous oxide

  • 29 CFR 1910.110 - storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases

  • 29 CFR 1910.111 - storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia

  • 29 CFR 1910.252 - general requirements



Additional OSH standards applicable to compressed gases include:

General Industry

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Compliance Documents

  • Standards Directive STD 03-08-002, Compressed Gas Cylinders 29 CFR 1926.350(a)(9) - Subject: Transporting, moving and storing compressed gas cylinders at construction site clarifies that the requirements in 29 CFR 1926.350(a)(9) applies to transporting, moving and storing compressed gas cylinders at construction sites only and cannot be applied to general industry in 29 CFR 1910 subpart Q or to welding gas suppliers and distributors who do not secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position on their premises.

  • Standards Notice 72 - Security of compressed gas cylinders provides information about securing compressed gas cylinders at compressed gas supplier and distribution facilities.

Industry Guides

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.