Preparing Equipment and Instrumentation for Cold Weather Operations

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Type:  Newsletter/Journal

Publisher:  U. S. Department of Labor, OSHA

Published As:  Public


Topics:  Chemical Safety, Occupational Safety and Health, Maintenance

As outdoor air temperatures drop, it is important for chemical and other facilities to be prepared for the unique safety challenges posed by cold weather, such as the hazards of water freezing and expanding, which can damage equipment or cause instrumentation to fail. When the temperature drops, the freezing process begins, and materials expand. This can crack or break pipes and rupture or damage process equipment. This damaged equipment may not become evident until the temperature rises, the ice thaws, and a leak develops. More subtle hazards may also exist, such as the formation of a hydrate, where water chemically combines with a compound, forming a solid that can also block process piping. This can happen even above freezing temperatures.

This digest summarizes three Chemical Safety Board investigations where ineffective freeze protection practices and programs were found to be causal to the incident. The document also provides the key safety lessons from these incidents, as well as additional freeze protection guidance and resources.

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