There are several critical safety processes and industry safety standards that must be followed to ensure worker safety when workers open pipe systems that contain toxic or flammable gas. Generally, they are referred to as “Lock Out- Tag Out” (LOTO) procedures and Isolation, Purging and Blanking procedures. Before “breaking” open a pipe or line (“breaking” means the intentional opening of a pipe or line that contains toxic, flammable or hazardous substance), all contractors and employers involved in the work must conduct a hazardous job analysis to identify all possible job hazards and develop a written to plan eliminate or reduce each hazard to the extent possible. Good safety begins with good planning.
There are several different energy control processes that can be used. One is called “line blanking or blinding”. This involves the absolute closure of a pipe or line by inserting and fastening a solid plate that completely covers the opening or diameter/bore of the pipe and that can withstand the maximum pressure of the pipe or line with no leakage beyond the plate. Another process is called “double block and bleed”. This involves closing the pipe or line and locking and tagging two “in-line” valves and by opening and locking or tagging a drain or vent valve in the line between the two closed valves.
The type of energy control and isolation process used will vary depending on the specifics of the piping system and hazardous substance involved but there are well known industry safety standards that govern all types of piping systems containing hazardous substances.
Unfortunately, workers are often put in harm’s way when employers do not develop proper safety plans for controlling and isolating toxic gas, like hydrogen sulfide, before work begins on opening pipes containing these dangerous toxic substances.
At Matzus Law LLC, we have significant experience in representing workers and their families who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of inadequate and improper safety procedures when working on piping systems containing toxic gas or flammable gases. Contact Matzus Law LLC today.