At the end of January 2014, the Joint Commission released an article Found Here clarifying the storage requirements for freestanding nonflammable medical gas cylinders. The main update is that once a cylinder valve is opened, the cylinder is no longer permitted to be stored with the full, unopened containers even if gas remains in the cylinder. This clarification means that a cylinder, even if newly opened, should be segregated from full (unopened) cylinders. Facilities are required to segregate cylinders into three racks – full (unopened), partial, and empty. Each rack should have cylinders securely stored and clearly labeled so users can quickly identify the proper containers in the event of an emergency. Facilities should review their medical gas storage policies against this clarification as it will likely be a point of emphasis in future inspections.
While we’re on the topic, here are a few other important items to note relative to medical gas cylinder storage:
- The 2005 Edition of NFPA 99 Section 9.4.3 limits the total volume of nonflammable gases that are not stored in enclosures to 300 cubic feet (12 cylinders) within a smoke compartment.
- Oxygen cylinders that are mounted on gurneys, wheelchairs, and medical equipment, but are not actively being used by patients are considered to be in use and do not count towards this threshold. See CMS S&C-07-10 for CMS position on this issue which has been endorsed by the Joint Commission.