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Safe Practices for Handling and Operating Oxygen Equipment
Oxygen used in the medical profession can be very hazardous. Although oxygen does not
burn, it does support combustion. A material which will not burn in air may burn in high
pressure pure oxygen - such as the metal in oxygen regulators or cylinders. Comprehensive
guidelines and training on safe practices for handling oxygen are available form several
sources listed at the end of this section. Some general guidelines for minimizing the
chance of fire are provided below:
Storage, Maintenance and Handling:
- Do not allow smoking around oxygen.
- Store oxygen in clean, dry locations away from direct sunlight.
- Do not allow post valves, regulators, gauges, and fittings to come into contact with
oils, greases, organic lubricants, rubber or any other combustible substance.
- Make sure that any cleaning, repair or transfilling of oxygen equipment is performed by
qualified, properly trained staff.
- Do not work on oxygen equipment with ordinary tools. Designate special tools, clean them
and store them for Use With Oxygen Equipment Only.
- Ensure that any components added to the regulator, e.g., gauge guards, are installed so
that they do not block the regulator vent holes.
- Use plugs, caps and plastic bags to protect "off duty" equipment from dust and
- Particulate migration form the cylinder can be minimized by the installation of a
standoff tube (bayonette) at the inlet of the post valve.
- Make sure that staff using oxygen equipment are adequately trained in its operation and
in oxygen safety and have knowledge of manufactures in instructions for using the
- Visually inspect the post valve gasket and regulator inlet prior to installation. If
they are mot visually clean they should not be used.
- Momentarily open and close ("Crack") the post valve to blow out debris prior
to installing a regulator.
- Ensure that the regulator is set with the flow knob in the off position before attaching
it to the cylinder.
- Position the equipment so that valve is pointed away from the user and any other
- Open the cylinder valve slowly and completely to minimize the heat produced and achieve
the desired flow conditions within the equipment.
- Do not look at the regulator pressure gauge until the cylinder valve is fully opened.
Additional information, guidance and training regarding oxygen and fire safety can be
obtained from a number of sources.
TB-Safe Practices for Oxygen.doc(3-08-99)