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Many industrial and laboratory operations require the use of compressed gases for a variety of different operations.

Compressed gases present a unique hazard. Depending on the particular gas, there is a potential for simultaneous exposure to both mechanical and chemical hazards.

Gases may be:

  • Flammable or combustible
  • Explosive
  • Corrosive
  • Poisonous
  • Inert
  • or a combination of hazards

If the gas is flammable, flash points lower than room temperature, compounded by high rates of diffusion, present a danger of fire or explosion. Additional hazards of reactivity and toxicity of the gas, as well as asphyxiation, can be caused by high concentrations of even "harmless" gases such as nitrogen.

Since the gases are contained in heavy, highly pressurized metal containers, the large amount of potential energy resulting from compression of the gas makes the cylinder a potential rocket or fragmentation bomb (The One That Got Away).

Careful procedures are necessary for handling the various compressed gases, the cylinders containing the compressed gases, regulators or valves used to control gas flow, and the piping used to confine gases during flow.

This training module is also available in PowerPoint.

NEXT   Next: Cylinder Identification

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Reviewed April 2013

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