Hazard Guidelines

Compressed Gas Use

Contact: Jon Lillemoen
Phone: (734) 763-6973
E-mail: jlillemo@umich.edu
Date of last revision: 3/8/2016


Currently there are more than 200 different substances commonly shipped in compressed gas containers, which can be considered compressed gases. Compressed gases can be classified or categorized a variety of ways and are often based on a common source, similar use, related chemical structure or similar physical properties and many gases can fall into multiple categories. Generally, the term "compressed gas" also refers to liquefied and dissolved gases meeting these criteria and also includes cryogenic gases, e.g., Nitrogen (N2), Hydrogen (H2), Helium (He). Refer to OSEH’s guideline for Cryogenic Liquid Use (Research) for additional information on cryogenic liquids.

Multiple hazards may be associated with compressed gases and include:

  • Fire and Explosion hazards due to some flammable, pyrophoric, or reactive gases;
  • Health hazards due to some toxic, corrosive or asphyxiant gases, and;
  • Pressure hazards due to the high pressures (inherent to) within most cylinders that can result in a rapid release of pressure and subsequent violent pinwheeling or (propulsion) rocketing of the cylinder.

Each laboratory should develop Standard Operating Procedures that cover the hazards associated with the compressed gas as well as precautions, PPE requirements, etc. There are also limitations on the number and volume of cylinders as well as additional requirements that may apply depending on the specific use and type of materials involved.

Restricted Hazardous Gas Purchase Information:

Training Resources:

Click here for Guideline