October 1, 2013
When dealing with pressure equipment, there are a variety of risks present due to misuse of the equipment or accidents around the equipment. While the actual causes of the danger could vary greatly, the actual inherent risk associated with pressure equipment comes from only three sources.
It is a simple application of physics that for a piece of equipment to maintain pressure in as durable and as safe a manner as possible, the equipment must be made of material that can support itself and resist damage both from its intended purpose and from any external threats. The greater the pressure involved, the greater the strength required. In the industrial world these requirements usually translate to using a heavy metal sheathing to house the equipment. When dealing with very large pressure that needs to be maintained for long periods of time, this weight can become tremendous indeed. The danger of any incredibly heavy object is obvious - should that enormous weight shift for any reason, it could crush anyone in the vicinity.
People become complacent. When we settle into a routine, we tend to shift into an auto pilot mode and sometimes fail to pay attention to our surroundings as well as we should. Because of this, any large and irregularly shaped object becomes a danger to those moving around it who could be acting on auto pilot.
Without doubt, the sudden release of pressure from a piece of pressure equipment that has acquired a breach is the most spectacular risk that such equipment poses. Fortunately, a very specific set of circumstances must be met for pressure to be released explosively. A tiny leak in the seal of a pressurized environment can be a lethal force in the very small area affected. Air or liquid being expelled with terrific force from a small opening can cut through objects like a laser. This is only a real threat when someone actually gets very close to and directly in front of the breach, an action that goes against any sane safety rule. An enormous rupture that immediately releases most of the pressure is likewise not that dangerous. Diffused over a large area, the pressure loses its focused destructive ability. No, the only way that dangerous explosive pressure release can occur is in the event that a rupture is just the right size and creates enough debris to send flying.
Like virtually any industrial equipment, pressure equipment comes with inherent dangers. These risks can be minimized by following sound safety guidelines and paying attention when working with it.
Fusion - Weld Engineering Pty Ltd
ABN 98 068 987619
1865 Frankston Flinders Road,
Hastings, VIC 3915
Ph: (03) 5909 8218
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