Steam Boiler Safety 101: 6 Protocols you Should Follow

Historically speaking, steam boilers haven’t had the best track record with safety, but just as the modern era has seen the development of better steam boilers, so too has their safety record improved and, most importantly, the safety protocols and knowledge surrounding their operation. That being said, incidents do still happen, and the consequences can range from minor burns to more extreme cases such as explosions or fires. Today’s article is going to cover the etiquette surrounding steam boiler safety, including steam boiler maintenance — the most crucial factor of all.

1.     Wear proper PPE

It never hurts to state the obvious when it comes to industrial devices; one of the most common incidents associated with industrial steam boilers is related to burns from making contact with the hot exterior.  Before working with or in the proximity of steam boilers you should ensure you’re equipped with the appropriate PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to mitigate this from occurring. Proper PPE includes:

  • Safety glasses;
  • Gloves;
  • Long sleeve shirts;
  • Appropriate safety boots and trousers; and
  • Ear protection.

2.     Be aware of your surroundings

Falling is another commonly associated incident; the injuries can range from a minor scrape to more serious wounds. Rather than taking the chance, we recommend you implement a take five approach and never rush things when operating steam boilers or similar equipment. Be aware of your surroundings and ensure the encompassing area is kept clear of any unnecessary items on a daily basis. This is a good habit to get into and could circumvent the occurrence of incidents.

3.     Never operate unfamiliar devices

Given the nature of steam boilers, under no circumstances should they ever be operated by untrained or inexperienced hands. An operator should be familiar with every component of a boiler to ensure they are:

  1. in as much control as possible in the event of an incident; and
  2. can read the boiler and foresee, in-a-manner-of-speaking, when an issue may (component repairs, general maintenance etc.).

On-the-job training is not enough; formal sessions should be implemented to ensure the operator has a thorough understanding of the device — this includes simulated emergency drills to acclimatise the operator to thinking on their feet in case of a genuine emergency.

4.     Steam boiler maintenance

The most crucial action you can take to prevent incidents from occurring is following correct and regular steam boiler maintenance practices — this will mitigate the chance of components failing (which can, in some extreme cases, actually result in the boilers exploding).

It’s not just about repairing components when they begin to degrade, but ongoing preventative maintenance to ensure your boiler is in optimal working condition — this will result in a more efficient system overall. You can contact Tomlinson Energy Services 24/7 if you require steam boiler maintenance services.

5.      Leak management

This point ties back to our last two regarding steam boiler maintenance and being familiar with the boilers; there are four different types of serious leaks that any boiler operator should look out for, these include:

  • Steam;
  • High and low-pressure feedwater;
  • Gauge glasses; and
  • Safety valves.

In most cases, these types of leakages can lead to steam burns to operators or fires due to liquid spraying electrical equipment that does not have the appropriate IP rating. Leaking gauge glasses can actually explode and send glass flying as well as steam; in less serious instances a leaking gauge glass can indicate inaccurate water level measurements. It’s important to keep all boilers and components well-maintained and to never overextend their operational capacity.

6.     Handle treatment chemicals with care

Boiler water must be treated with certain chemicals such as potassium hydroxide to ensure it remains free of impurities; these chemicals can cause bodily harm to the operators if handled incorrectly. Always read the MSDS and ensure the appropriate safety precautions are being taken including wearing the proper PPE.

Australian steam boiler specialists

Tomlinson Energy Services prides itself on being Australia’s leading steam boiler and thermal energy systems vendor; specialising in complete solutions, we can assist you with all your steam boiler maintenance, sales and installation services. Our knowledgeable and experienced specialists can assist you with system selection to ensure the right product perfectly fits your operations.

If you would like to find out more about our services, then please do not hesitate to contact us by filling out the form below or calling the Tomlinson head office located in your state. 

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Tomlinson Energy Service NSW, VIC and SA have a dedicated management system with a focus on Quality, Safety and Environmental aspects of all our operations.

Accredited to ISO 45001:2018, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 9001:2015.

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