OSHA Standards for the Storage of Portable Oxygen Cylinders

Oxygen cylinders can be found on nearly any construction site, but they are also used by small businesses and homeowners. Oxygen cylinders are most commonly used with metal welding and cutting tools and are therefore part of any metalworking shop. These cylinders are under considerable pressure and the contents are highly flammable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a number of guidelines and standards that describe proper oxygen cylinder storage for industrial, commercial and residential use.

General Cylinder Storage

All compressed gas cylinders, regardless of their contents, must be properly stored to prevent accidental damage, discharge or tampering with by unauthorized people. OSHA cylinder storage guidelines suggest placing cylinders in an outdoor location. When stored indoors, they must be located in a dry, well-ventilated location at least 20 feet away from other combustible materials and high-traffic areas. They should be stored away from radiators and other sources of heat. Cylinders should also be stacked valve end up, and any empty cylinder must have its valve closed. All cylinders not in use need to have a valve cap in place that is hand tightened.

Cylinder Racks

Utilizing a rack system is a straightforward way to satisfy OSHA cylinder storage guidelines. Racks can be bought commercially or even handmade. A rack consists of a metal frame enclosed on three sides, with a chain and latch on the fourth side sized to fit standard cylinders. Racks should be mounted on a level concrete slab and have a roof overhead to shade cylinders and protect them from precipitation. A rack may be surrounded by a locking chain link fence gate for additional security.

Oxygen Cylinder Storage

Proper oxygen cylinder storage carries additional requirements. Oxygen cylinders should be stored separately from fuel sources such as acetylene, propane and other fuel gases. Maintain a minimum 20-foot clearance from nearby combustible materials, or store the oxygen cylinders behind a 5-foot high noncombustible barrier. In general, oxygen tanks should be stored outdoors. Otherwise, they may be located within a detached shed or garage provided that the structure is well ventilated.

Moving Cylinders

Oxygen cylinders have to be as secure during transportation as they are in storage. Rolling a cylinder along its edge is never a safe method for moving a tank. Utilize dollies and hand trucks specifically designed to handle gas cylinders. These dollies will have a locking mechanism in place to secure tanks when in transit. Never try to transport tanks unsecured in the bed of a truck. Rent a cylinder truck or a portable cylinder rack to mount onto a standard truck bed.