Compressed gas cylinders that are not stored correctly or mishandled may rupture violently, releasing their hazardous contents or becoming dangerous projectiles. Special precautions are necessary when storing and handling compressed gas cylinders.


  • Always store and secure compressed gas cylinders in an upright position.
  • When not in use, valve protection caps must be secured in place.
  • Secure the cylinders individually using chains, nylon web straps, plastic coated wire cable or commercially available cylinder straps.
  • Separate oxygen cylinders in storage from fuel-gas cylinders or combustible materials at a minimum distance of 20 feet or by a noncombustible barrier at least five feet high, having a fire-resistance rating of at least one-half hour.
  • Keep cylinders far enough away from actual welding or cutting operations so that sparks, hot slag or flames will not reach them.
  • Segregate the cylinders in hazard classes for storage. At the minimum, oxidizers (such as oxygen) must be separated from flammable gases.
  • Do not store cylinders where heavy objects could fall on them.


  • When transporting cylinders, secure them in an upright position.
  • Before moving cylinders, remove the regulators and put valve protection caps in place.
  • Do not use the protective valve cap for moving or lifting the cylinder.
  • Move the cylinders by tilting and rolling them on their bottom edges. Do not drag, slide or roll cylinders.
  • Do not drop a cylinder, handle cylinders roughly or permit cylinders to violently strike each other.


  • Use only the regulator designed for the material in use.
  • Do not grease or oil the regulator or cylinder valves.
  • Open the valve slowly and only with the proper regulator in place. Open it all the way.
  • Do not leave the valve open when the equipment is not in use, even if the cylinder is empty.
  • Keep the cylinder clear of all sparks, flames and electrical circuits.
  • Don’t use oxygen in place of compressed air.
  • Don’t use copper fittings or tubing on acetylene tanks, as an explosion may result.
  • Wear appropriate PPE for the hazard potential of the material you are working with.

Most people think the cylinders on their worksite are safe. However, cylinders are safe only if you treat them properly. Make sure you know how to handle them.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.