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.

Compressed Gases

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is a compressed gas?

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.

Any flammable material having a vapor press above 40 p.s.i. absolute at 100 deg F.

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

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 a 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.

Solutions

Solutions

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?

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 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.

The example programs on hazard communication and respiratory protection can be customized to fit workplace conditions and equipment.

A-Z safety and health topic pages on hazard communication, personal protective equipment and respiratory protection can provide more resource information. In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). 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.

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for compressed gases in North Carolina:

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

Construction

Maritime

Additional OSH general industry standards applicable to compressed gases include:

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

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 ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.