The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Compressed Air Testing Bad Idea

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whenever possible, pressure test equipment using water (hydrostatic test) or another non-hazardous liquid.

Water is a non-compressible fluid, and water at a given pressure contains a lot less energy than a compressed gas such as air. 

Think about the difference in the sound of bursting a balloon filled with water compared to one filled with air. 

The air filled balloon “pops”, but the water filled balloon does not make much noise.

Before you start a pressure test, think about the consequences if a failure occurs. 

Take precautions so that people are not at risk during the test. 

Remember that it is a test – what happens if the equipment fails the test?

Do not rely on valves only to isolate equipment being tested from other equipment that is not strong enough to withstand the test pressure. 

Provide positive isolation with blinds or physical disconnection of piping.

Use an approved written pressure testing procedure, and follow it rigorously.

Post warning signs and restrict access to places where pressure testing is being done.

Make sure that people who are not directly involved in the test are not allowed in the area for any reason.

If you must use pressurized gas for a test, do a thorough safety review before conducting the test.

Do you have a good MOC process?

Graham Marshall - Friday, February 08, 2013

When introducing new machinery or ways of working, employers should ensure they fully consider the implications of the changes they're making.

It is only by using a thorough "management of change" (MOC) process that the hazards and risk involved with the change can be identified, assessed, and then managed using  appropriate control measures that reduce the risk to the ALARP level.

Any failure to properly assess the use of new equipment or new methods of work will typically increase the risk and often lead to a wholesale failure by the employer to fulfil their duties relating to safe systems of work, training, supervision and PPE requirements.

A recent example of the failure by an employer to use an adequate MOC process when introducing new technology is that of a glass-making company in Leeds (UK) that was prosecuted when a worker was injured using an high-pressure jet washer.  The jet washer had just been introduced to the work place.

The worker suffered a severe cut to his hand when the lance of the 1500-bar jet washer fell from his grip.

The court in Leeds were told that Allied Glass Containers Ltd bought the jet washer to clean dirt and oils where previously the cleaning had been done manually.

The court heard the firm had not provided the worker with adequate training, information or instruction, that he was given unsuitable PPE, and despite not having used the jet washer before, he was not adequately supervised.

Plastic sheeting used to protect other workers from the water jetting was also found to be inadequate to withstand the water pressure, and there was no warning signage informing workers of the danger of entering the water-jetting area.

In this case of a failure to use an appropriate MOC process, Allied Glass Containers was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,623 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Management of Change on Drill Rigs

Graham Marshall - Monday, December 10, 2012

This week, starting Monday 10th of December, I'm dedicating the Risk Tool Box blog to a fantastic series of important safety alerts put out by APPEA down-under in Australia.

Starting today, you can read this safety alert regarding the importance of having a thorough Management of Change (MOC) process for any changes which are made to a facility.

In the example shown here, a walkway on an onshore drill-rig was modified, but insufficient MOC was performed and the walkway later collapsed under load with two rig hands standing on the walkway.

Thankfully, neither of the workers was injured.  But the potential was there for very serious consequences.




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