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Compressed Gas Safety

One of the most common safety hazards in all labs are compressed gas cylinders. Handling and storage of these cylinders is also one of the most common EPA and OSHA violations. The following simple guidelines will help ensure a safe lab.

Flammable, Asphyxiant, Toxic, Corrosive, Oxidizer, Pyrophoric and Cryogenic gases require additional safety measures. Contact Environmental Health and Safety for training and information.

When Cylinders are Received:

  • Check that the name of the gas is clearly labeled on the cylinder.
  • Check that the appropriate hazard warnings are clearly labeled on the cylinder.
  • Check that the hydrostatic test date is within the last 5 years.
  • Check that the valve cap is in place and can be easily removed.
  • Get a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the gas and keep it in the lab.

Cylinder Storage

  • Secure cylinders with a strap, chain, bracket or other approved restraint, holding the cylinder between waist and shoulder, to a fixed object (wall or bench). 
  • Keep valve caps in place when not in use.
  • Keep valves closed when not in use.
  • Store cylinders with other compatible gases.
  • Do not store flammable gases near oxidizers or combustible materials.

Cylinder Use

  • Use a 2 stage regulator made for that gas.
  • Do not alter, adapt or use Teflon tape on regulators (Teflon tape can only be used on threaded connections).
  • Leak test fittings, piping and connections before work begins.
  • Leave 25 psi in cylinder. Do not empty cylinder completely to prevent backflow of contaminants or air.
  • Mark cylinders "MT" or "EMPTY"; store separately from full cylinders.


  • Rooms containing compressed gases must have a sign outside the room stating COMPRESSED GAS and the name of the gas and hazard class.
  • If TOXIC or FLAMMABLE gases are leaking, immediately evacuate area.
  • Call University Police at 333 from a campus phone  or 631- 632-3333 from a non campus  and ask for the HAZMAT Team.

Disposal of Used Gas Cylinders

  • Close and tighten valves and replace safety caps on cylinders.
  • Contact supplier/vendor to obtain guidelines for the shipment of cylinders to be returned.
  • Identify the gas that was in the container. Valves will be removed from empty non-toxic gas cylinders before disposal as metal scrap.
  • Contact Environmental Health and Safety for removal of cylinders that cannot be returned to the supplier/vendor or for disposal of orphaned cylinders.

Read the EH&S Policy 1-5 "Compressed Gas and Cryogenic Fluid Handling, Storage and Disposal" for additional information.