Some general precautions for handling, storing, and using compressed gases:
1) Never drop cylinders or permit them to strike each other violently.
2) Cylinders may be stored in the open, but should be protected from the ground beneath to prevent rusting. Cylinders may be stored in the sun, except in localities where extreme temperatures prevail; in the case of certain gases, the supplier's recommendation for shading should be observed. If ice or snow accumulates on a cylinder, thaw at room temperature.
3) The valve-protection cap should be left on each cylinder until it has been secured against a wall or bench, or placed in a cylinder stand, and is ready to be used.
4) Avoid dragging, rolling, or sliding cylinders, even for a short distance. They should be moved by using a suitable hand truck.
5) Never tamper with pressure relief devices in valves or cylinders.
6) Do not store full and empty cylinders together.
7) Do not have full and empty cylinders connected to the same manifold. Reverse flow can occur when an empty cylinder is attached to a pressurized system.
8) No part of a cylinder should be subjected to a temperature higher than 125°F. A flame should never be permitted to come in contact with any part of compressed gas cylinder.
9) Cylinders should not be subjected to artificially created low temperatures (-40°F or lower), since many types of steel will lose their ducility and impact strength at low temperatures. Special stainless steel cylinders are available for low temperature use.
10) Do not place cylinders where they may become part of an electric circuit. When electric arc welding, precautions must be taken to prevent from striking an arc against a cylinder.
11) Bond and ground all cylinders, lines, and equipment used with flammable compressed gases.
12) Use compressed gases only in a well-ventilated area. Toxic, flammable and corrosive gases should be carefully handled in a hood. Proper containment systems should be used and minimum quantities of these products should be kept on-site.
13) Cylinders should be used in rotation as received from the supplier. Storage areas should be set up to permit proper inventory rotation.
14) When discharging gas into a liquid, a trap or suitable check valve should be used to prevent liquid from getting back into the cylinder or regulator.
15) When using compressed gases, wear appropriate protective equipment, such as safety goggles or face shield, rubber gloves, and safety shoes. Well-ventilated barricades should be used in extremely hazardous operations, such as in the handling of fluorine. Gas masks should be kept available for immediate use when working with toxic gases. These masks should be placed in convenient locations in areas not likely to become contaminated, and should be approved by the U.S. Bureau of Mines for the service intended. Those involved in the handling of compressed gases should become familiar with the proper application and limitations of the various types of masks and respiration aids available.
16) When returning empty cylinders, close the valve before shipment, leaving some positive pressure in the cylinder. Replace any valve outlet and protective caps originally shipped with the cylinder. Mark or label the cylinder "empty" (or utilize standard DOT "empty" labels) and store in a designated area for return to the supplier.
17) Before using cylinders, read all label information and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) associated with the gas being used. Observe all applicable safety practices.
18) Eye baths, safety showers, gas masks, respirators, and/or resuscitators should be located nearby but out of the immediate area that is likely to become contaminated in the event of a large release of gas.
19) Fire extinguishers, preferably of the dry chemical type, should be kept close at hand and should be checked periodically to ensure their proper operation.
The user of compressed gases should become familiar with the first aid methods to be employed in cases of overexposure or burns caused by a gas. A plant doctor should be familiar with whatever further treatments may be necessary. Unnecessary delay in the treatment of a patient overcome by a toxic gas or burned by a corrosive gas could cause the patient permanent damage, and might even result in death. Authorized personnel should administer first aid; however, they should not take it upon themselves to administer medical treatments. A physician should be contacted immediately.
(Source: Safe Handling of Compressed Gases in the Laboratory and Plant, Copyright 2011 Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)