Installing a new pipe system typically comes with certain unexpected risks. These challenges and problems must be addressed in order to ensure safety and mitigate those risks while modifying a functioning pipe system.
Because of the complexity and the hazards associated with modifying or changing a pipe system, establishing a formalized a process that will help protect each other from injury from either chemical contamination or an unexpected release of pressure. Here are a few tips on what to cover when creating a Line Break Permitting Process:
- Define the Scope of Work including identification of the material in the Pipe System and understand if the system is pressurized. Get the MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET (MSDS) and understand the pressure in all sections of pipe. Discuss the scope with all parties, this may include customers, engineering or maintenance departments, Project Managers… Seek out the people who understand the specifics of the pipe system you are modifying.
- Create a Work Plan that includes a Safety Plan. In the Safety plan, discuss the PPE and boundary requirements necessary to protect your employees and the others working nearby, property, whether yours or your customers. Consider the safety items that need to be communicated with the people performing the work. For example: locate and verify working condition of nearest eye wash shower stations, plan to control or collect any residual liquid and know how to correctly dispose of it.
Before beginning work, review and communicate to everyone involved the Safety Plan, a Job Safety Analysis, and Line Break Permit followed with creation of the boundary and verification of all PPE. A few other things to consider:
- Verify all pumps and valves are locked out. If applicable, ask the customer or “owning department” to make the first line break at a low point on each pressurized loop and release all pressure.
- After all pressure is released, drain and flush each pipe, as required. (Flushing is not always required to make the system safe.) Verify with the MSDS sheet.
- As work begins on the pipe system treat each pipe as if it still pressurized and contains a hazardous material. It is critical to wear all appropriate PPE based on the MSDS and potential system pressures.
Piping Systems are a part of our daily lives. They help us live and work more efficiently. People typically do not pay attention to the various piping systems around them, nor do they realize the potential hazards when disturbing them. Paying attention and creating a plan for breaking into functioning piping systems helps protect the lives of ourselves, our employees, and our coworkers.