University of South Florida


An oxygen cylinder is stored immediately next to a fuel-gas cylinder in a welding area.

What's wrong with this picture?

Hazard identification and assessment within the workplace are critical elements of an effective safety and health program. Luis Silva, our USF SafetyFlorida contributor for October, provides insight into the proper storage of oxygen cylinders, as pictured in the above photo.

What is wrong with this picture?

An oxygen cylinder is stored immediately next to a fuel-gas cylinder in the welding area. There is one more problem. Can you identify it?

Applicable OSHA regulation


Oxygen cylinders in storage shall be separated from fuel-gas cylinders or combustible materials (especially oil or grease) at a minimum distance of 20 feet or by a noncombustible barrier at least 5 feet high having a fire-resistance rating of at least one-half hour.

Corrective actions required

Although it is preferable to separate oxygen cylinders from fuel-gas cylinders and combustible materials by twenty feet (6.10 meters) or more, it is acceptable to provide a barrier at least five feet (1.52 m) high and having a fire-resistance rating of at least 30 minutes. Note that a sheet metal partition is not an acceptable barrier. Have employees store the cylinders in the designated areas, even if they are empty. And for the additional problem you identified, compressed gas cylinders must have their valve caps in place when not in use.

In-house safety and health inspections

A system of regular in-house inspections of all work practices, equipment, work processes, and worker-safe behavior is an excellent tool to identify hazards, correct them in a timely manner, and, most importantly, prevent hazards and serious injuries. The effectiveness of regular self-inspections can improve with additional formal safety training and awareness training as new hazards are discovered. Communicating the results of inspections to employees and allowing the safety committee or safety team members to perform regular facility inspections is a valuable tool to increase employee participation and awareness.

For more information about workplace safety or to request SafetyFlorida Consultation Program services, please visit our website at or call (866) 273-1105.

Luis Silva
Health Consultant, USF SafetyFlorida

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