Compressed Gas & Liquid Safety at VUMC

Compressed gases and liquids are used for a variety of purposes at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Some examples include: 

  • Medical gases are supplied via ports in the walls in clinical settings, and portable medical gas cylinders are also used during patient transport.
  • Compressed liquids are used to cool the magnets used in the MRI facilities.
  • Compressed gases and liquids are used in the clinical and research laboratories.

Compressed Gas & Liquid Hazards

Compressed gases and liquids pose several special hazards:  

  • Projectile:  If a compressed gas or liquid cylinder ruptures or if the cap is knocked loose, the cylinder turns into a very dangerous projectile that can cause serious injury and damage.  For this reason alone, it is very important to always keep cylinders secured.
  • Oxygen Displacement:  When large containers are ruptured, the contents are released with such force that breathable oxygen is actually forced out of a room.  This is especially hazardous in small rooms or areas where very large volumes of compressed liquids are used, such as in an MRI facility.
  • Fire: Some gases are flammable, and some gases are oxidizers, which promote fire through the release of oxygen.  If an acetylene gas cylinder ruptures, it is both a hazardous projectile and a fire hazard.


Available in the Learning Exchange:

  • Cryogen Safety (required annually)
  • Medical Gas Safety & Emergency Response for System Failures (required one time only)

Also available in the Learning ExchangeChemical & Physical Safety in the Lab includes some information about compressed gases and liquids.

Additional Resources


If you have questions about compressed gases or liquids, please contact someone in the OCRS Hospital & Clinic Safety Section or, if you work in a laboratory, contact someone in the OCRS Chemical & Laboratory Safety Section.