Electrical Outlets and Oxygen Cylinders

Q: In regards to oxygen cylinder storage on the nursing units, is there a code or standard that restricts the distance between a storage rack of 6 E size cylinders and nearby electrical outlet receptacles?

A: No, there is not an NFPA code or standard that addresses how close a storage rack of oxygen cylinders may be stored to an electrical switch or outlet receptacle, for spaces that have less than 3,000 cubic feet of compressed medical gases, which is typical for a nursing unit. However, NFPA 99 (2012 edition) does require ignition sources (i.e. electrical switches, outlets, receptacles, thermostats, etc.) to be mounted 60 inches above the floor in rooms designated for the storage of 3,000 cubic feet or more of compressed medical gases. The 2012 edition of NFPA 99 also allows for the protection of the electrical ignition sources (e.g. wire cages) in lieu of relocating them 60 inches above the floor. That is to prevent the taller ‘H’ size cylinders from damaging the electrical devices and causing an electrical short.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.