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What is Compressed Gas Safety?

The University requires the safe handling, use, and storage of compressed gas cylinders to protect employees and students from potential physical and health hazards associated with using compressed gases in laboratories or other locations that are part of the University. 

For more information about Compressed Gas Safety, please contact ehslaboratory@ucr.edu or call (951) 827-5528.

University of California, Riverside (UCR) persistently endeavors to provide a learning, teaching, and research environment free from recognized hazards. 

This program specifies minimum requirements for safe storage, use, and handling of compressed Gas, toxic and highly toxic gas at UCR. This document also:

  • Summarizes the health and safety risks associated with toxic and highly toxic gas use and handling;
  • Identifies exposure control methods to protect employee’s safety and health and the environment;
  • Outlines regulatory and university requirements related to this work;
  • Specifies emergency response procedures for addressing toxic gas issues; and
  • Provides resources for further information.

Program Evaluation

EHS will evaluate and audit the written Compressed Gas Safety Program periodically. All updates, changes, and additions will be documented and will be kept with the written program. The following items will be reviewed to measure the program's overall effectiveness.

  • Accident/incident reports
  • Medical records report
  • Management/employee compliance
  • Recommendations
  • Inspections
  • Training records
  • Administrative/Engineering controls

Potential Hazards

Compressed gas cylinders can present a variety of hazards due to their pressure and/or contents. This program covers recommendations which should be followed for the use of all compressed gases. In addition to the general work practices for toxic gases, flammable and inert gases. The compressed gas safety program applies to the storage, use, and handling of gases in pressurized portable containers and gas systems, its primary focus is on single gas uses and systems. For multiple gas use in single controls area and/or building additional requirements may be applied.

UCR personnel (this includes faculty, staff, researchers, and part-time employees) who physically transports and makes connections to compressed gas systems for use at UCR must complete compressed gas safety training approved by EHS. Lab specific training is considered adequate for the connections of tubing and adjusting flows at valves (recommended for pressures less than 30 psig). EHS provides a web-based training, all personnel working with toxic and highly toxic gases must also complete the proper training prior to their first contact with these materials.

Go to administrative control

This course will establish the needed elements for an effective compressed gas safety program. The content in this course is designed to comply with the intent of the applicable regulatory requirements. UCR faculty members who are sponsoring graduate students, visiting researchers, or other personnel not identified above as qualified licensed contractors will follow this program. Please consult with EHS (951-827-5528) for other training programs taken elsewhere to verify equivalency. The training program will be provided by the PI, a Lab Manager or EHS and will include operational training on specific compressed gas cylinder hazards on campus. UCR Employees will require refresher training under any of the following conditions:

• Changes in the workplace rendering previous training obsolete.

• Changes in the types of cylinder systems or equipment used that would render previous training obsolete.

• Observation of unsafe work practices and/or violations of safety rules involving the use of compressed gas cylinders or equipment, or observed behavior indicating that the employee has not retained the required training and retraining may be recommended

To read the Compressed Gas Safety Program, please click here

When using, transporting, moving, and storing compressed gases cylinders, follow these best practices:

• Cylinders must not be refilled except by authorized suppliers.

• Repair or alteration of a cylinder is prohibited.

• Only properly trained employees should handle and use compressed gas cylinders.

• Wear safety glasses, faceshield, and appropriate gloves when manipulating pressurized systems.

• Never empty a cylinder to less than 25psi.

• Ensure that the valve is always accessible.

Compressed Gases hazard classes

The types of compressed gas can be divided into three categories, each with unique characteristics.

Non-Liquefied Gas : is also a compressed, pressurized or permanent gas. These gases do not become liquid when they are compressed at normal temperatures or even very high pressures. Common examples are oxygen, nitrogen, helium, and argon.

Dissolved Gas : can also be compressed. A common example of dissolved gas is acetylene. Care should be taken when using acetylene or welding. Consult your supervisor before using acetylene.

Liquefied Gas : can become liquid at normal temperatures when they are inside a cylinder under pressure. When gas is removed from the cylinder, enough liquid evaporates to replace it, keeping the pressure in the cylinder constant. Common examples include anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, propane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

For personnel and environmental protection against the potential exposure to compressed gas use, the following are the PPE generally used to reduce risks:

  • Laboratory coats or gowns must be worn at all times in the toxic or highly toxic gas area.
  • Eye Protection; Safety glasses with side shields, safety goggles, or face shields should be worn when using compressed gases, especially when working with toxic or highly toxic gas or in the general vicinity. The type of eye protection should be based on the hazard assessment.
  • Skin Protection; Long pants, shirts and closed-toed and closed-heeled shoes must be worn at all times.
  • Hand Protection – Appropriate hand protection must be used when handling toxic and highly toxic gases, Leather or cut-resistant gloves should be used when handling gas cylinders to protect against cuts and pinch point hazards. Chemical resistant gloves are required if contact with the gas or its liquefied state is anticipated. The type of hand protection should be also be based upon a hazard assessment.
  • When employee exposure exceeds the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) or Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (whichever is lower), respiratory protection will be required.

NOTE: You must be enrolled in EHS Respiratory Protection program before wearing respiratory protection to enroll please contact EHS Industrial Hygienist x22964. Respiratory Protection not permitted as a permanent means of protection. Inhalation hazards should be primarily controlled through engineering control measures.

All compressed gas cylinders must be properly stored in compliance with OSHA and NFPA code requirements. Cylinders internal pressure can reach over 2,000 psi. In the event of a container breach, the cylinder becomes a potential projectile.

Store cylinders secured to a stationary object or wall. No more than two cylinders may be fastened by one strap. Store cylinders with safety caps in place. Never insert foreign objects into the safety cap holes when trying to remove or close the cap.

Handling

Use a cylinder cart for transportation. Move cylinders with safety cap in place.

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