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Oxygen (O2)

Last updated: January 22, 2017

What Does Oxygen (O2) Mean?

Oxygen, in the context of occupational health and safety, is a chemical element found in nature. It has no smell, taste or color and makes up 21 percent of the air we breathe. It is also used for various processes, such as in the production of acids, steel, iron, polyester, polymers and antifreeze. Oxygen is also used for cutting, welding and melting metals.

In the workplace, the air must contain a certain level of oxygen (between 19.5 and 23.5 percent according to OSHA) in order to be considered safe for workers. Oxygen can also react with combustible and reducing materials, creating a fire and explosion hazard.

Safeopedia Explains Oxygen (O2)

Without oxygen, humans can die within minutes. But too little oxygen poses high health risks as well, as does to much. Workplaces must therefore have adequate ventilation and other safety measures to ensure that employees have sufficient oxygen.

Oxygen can pose extreme fire threats and should be handled with care, especially when compressed. Special storage arrangements for oxygen are also necessary for safety against fire incidents.


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