#55 Gas Cylinders – Do’s & Don’ts

You often find “bottled” gases like acetylene, oxygen, hydrogen, air, and propane on a jobsite. These gases are usually stored under high pressure in compressed gas cylinders. When carefully handled and used, compressed gas cylinders like these are very safe. The unfortunate thing about jobsites is that there are usually a variety of vehicles and machines moving around on rough, often wet and uneven terrain. If an accident occurs and the valve gets broken off a full cylinder however, the cylinder can take off like a rocket, crashing through equipment, even brick, block, or concrete walls – you certainly don’t want to be in its path! It is best to treat gas cylinders with respect. Gas cylinders must be stored and used as follows:


  • Cylinders must be protected from all heat sources §1740(a)
  • They must be secured upright and placed so they will not fall or be knocked over §1740(c)
  • Cylinders must be handled in suitable cradles, with their valve caps installed; they must never be lifted by magnet, rope, or chain §1740(c), (d)
  • They must be guarded so that they never form a part of any electrical circuit §1740(e)
  • Fuel gas cylinders in storage must be separated from oxygen cylinders by a minimum distance of 20 ft or by a noncombustible barrier that is at least 5 ft high and has a fire-resistance rating of a ½ hour §1740(g)
  • Valve stem wrenches must be left in place while cylinders are in use §1743(g)
  • A fire extinguisher rated at least 10 B:C must be kept near the operation §1743(j)
  • Backflow protection is required §4845(b)