GAWDA’s Voluntary Cylinder Exchange Policy

The GAWDA Board of Directors has adopted a new cylinder exchange policy that is intended to help member companies determine cylinder ownership when filling for customers. The policy is voluntary and serves as a sample for companies to use in developing their own internal procedures.

Because the federal Hazardous Materials Regulations state that a “cylinder filled with a hazardous material may not be offered for transportation unless it was filled by the owner of the cylinder or with the owner’s consent,” questions as to ownership or consent arise when a customer presents a cylinder for filling and the company name on the container is different from the customer’s company. Also, some distributors have developed procedures for exchanging empty cylinders with customers for filling, so the chain of consent might not be obvious.

GAWDA’s sample policy tries to balance the need for verification of ownership or consent with the realities of today’s market. Cylinders might have a useful life of 75 years or more, and many of those assets have been bought and sold over the years, just as many of the companies originally purchasing them have changed hands in the past several decades. Some companies have a stringent policy of not selling their cylinders; others are more lenient. Thus, while the company name on the neck ring is still the first indication of cylinder ownership, in many cases the inquiry should not stop there.

GAWDA’s Suggested Cylinder Exchange Policy

It is the policy of our company to fill only XYZ Welding Supply Co. cylinders (indicated by our company name on the neck ring). The following are the only allowable exceptions to this policy:

  1. The customer has a bill of sale from a distributor or other entity, and that entity’s name appears on the cylinder neck ring. Make a copy of the bill of sale, file it, and enter that cylinder in the customer’s cylinder file. You must also make a copy of the driver’s license, and keep that in the customer’s file to verify that the buyer shown on the ownership document and the person at the counter are the same. If the bill of sale indicates the buyer is a company, the person presenting the cylinder for filling must indicate how he is affiliated with that company (The counter person should telephone the company, if necessary, to verify employment).
  2. If the customer claims to own the cylinder but has no bill of sale or other certificate of title, look at the cylinder neck ring to determine the distributor’s name. Telephone the distributor to verify ownership. Ask for a copy of the bill of sale or other ownership document for our company records, and include that document in the customer’s cylinder file upon receipt. Again, if the bill of sale indicates the buyer is a company, the person presenting the cylinder for filling must indicate how he is affiliated with that company (the counter person should also verify the presenter’s employment when telephoning the company) and that he has authority to have the cylinder filled.
  3. If the customer claims to have purchased the cylinder at a public sale, the sale document from the auctioneer will not be sufficient to prove ownership unless it is accompanied by a bill of sale from a distributor or other entity and that entity’s name appears on the cylinder neck ring. Inform the customer that he must obtain a proper document of sale or title from the auctioneer indicating ownership of the cylinder before you will fill it.
  4. Drivers should not return to our company facilities with cylinders other than XYZ Welding Supply cylinders as marked on the neck ring. If the customer persists in demanding filling of a cylinder marked with another company name, have the customer contact the XYZ Welding Supply main office by telephone and verify ownership of the cylinder by one of the above methods.
  5. If a non-XYZ cylinder is found in an XYZ facility, notify management at once and every effort will be made to return the cylinder to its rightful owner.
  6. This policy does not apply to acetylene cylinders with a capacity of less than 100 cu. ft. or to high-pressure cylinders with a capacity of less than 80 cu. ft. Those cylinders may be accepted for exchange and refilled with a verbal statement by the customer that the customer is the owner or has the owner’s permission to have the cylinder filled, or by completion of a written cylinder ownership acknowledgement form.


Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Rick Schweitzer Meet the Author
GAWDA’s Government Affairs & Human Resources Legal Consultant Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq., is president of Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC in Washington, D.C. Members can reach him at 202-223-3040 and rpschweitzer@rpslegal.com.