Reciprocating Compressor Safety: 4 Things to Know
Compressors are used in almost every industry, but everything can be jeopardized if you don’t follow these compressor safety tips.
Safety around reciprocating compressors not only provides a challenge for engineers, it demands a high level of awareness for management as well as general employees.
Understanding how they work and the power they harness are good ways to not only secure a workspace, but to also keep technicians safe and effective.
Safety consciousness also can reduce worker’s compensation, time lost to injury, and operational benefits due to inefficiency.
Having a working knowledge of the importance of the reciprocating compressor, as well how to avoid accidents while operating one, is advantageous to the entire work team.
1. Make Assembly and Operational Procedures Clear
The nature of daily tasks involving reciprocating compressors can lead to dangerous working conditions.
Since they involve the output of gas at high pressure, care must be taken at every point in the process.
Working with reciprocating compressors requires effective initial training, as well as refresher courses.
- Employees who feel confident in their work are essential to a safe environment.
- If they feel that they are trusted and that they are important members of a team, they are more apt to care for their workspace and help others who require clarification about safe operation.
Initial training should take place ideally with a member of the work team who is specifically prepared to deliver training to new employees.
In the absence of this, a seasoned employee who has strong communication skills can also provide effective training.
Ensuring that employees have regular reminders of basic safety procedures might be met with resistance, but providing for an enjoyable and team-oriented experience will make for a more effective session.
- Asking those who work with reciprocating compressors on a regular basis to mentor or assist new employees can help to build a strong team.
- Asking employees who are more familiar with the reciprocating compressor than others to communicate the importance of the equipment can increase awareness and safe operation.
2. Check On and Work With the Equipment
Sometimes a reciprocating compressor will look operational on paper, but when it comes to subjecting it to the everyday stresses and pressures of constant work, the reality is different.
Carefully inspecting not only a new reciprocating compressor, but also the systems feeding and releasing its output, is crucial.
For example, a new compressor might be working well, but its updated efficiency is might be overwhelming its venting system.
If this is the case, and you are unaware of it, your compressor safety is at risk.
It’s imperative to assemble the reciprocating compressor properly, either on first use, or after disassembly following maintenance or inspection.
Studying previous accidents or near-misses is helpful for all who are involved with this process.
- Constantly ensuring that the reciprocating compressor is working well in its everyday environment, as well as after unusual factors (such as exposure to colder temperatures than usual) can help keep both the equipment as well as employees safe.
- If the compressor experiences a spike in high pressure or contamination from hydrocarbons, contamination from particulates as well as gasses is possible.
Where torsional critical speed is concerned, provisions must be made to vary speeds. Keeping the motor in good operating condition is the best preventative maintenance.
- Odd vibrations, weakened seals, and pressurization of crank cases are all dangers due to incorrect installation or leveling of any parts of the compressor.
- Keeping a careful eye on motor purge systems is also a good way to protect the driving force of the system.
- Maintaining manufacturer recommended pressure levels is also central; a bypass timer and suitable lubrication for all moving parts goes a long way to keeping even a longstanding reciprocating compressor safe and in good repair.
Ensuring that the reciprocating compressor contains reliable trips, protectors, relief valves, and relays will help to protect it from a wide variety of problems.
Investing in quality insulation for all vulnerable parts of the system, especially the pipelines and refrigeration system, can maintain a safe temperature and increase efficiency.
3. Develop a Strong Safety Culture
Installing a strong and serious safety culture will protect all power-driven equipment as well as each employee in every sector.
Establishing an open-door policy and tolerance of whistleblowers is as necessary as physical maintenance of the machinery.
Value Your Employees
Boredom can lead to complacency, so it’s wise to ensure that each member of the team feels valued and understands the positive impact he or she can make on the process.
Top-down commitment to a strong safety culture is essential; employees won’t respect even the most carefully crafted guidelines if they don’t see their superiors adhering to them as well.
It’s important to have:
- An emphasis on reporting hazards
- Clear communication on what a strong safety culture is
- Constant upholding of such procedures
Just like the parts of the reciprocating compressor, a constructive safety culture is not a “set it and forget it” event. It requires:
Sustaining each aspect of safety culture depends on the attitudes and buy-in of the employees. In an era when inattention is more prevalent than ever, accentuating personal accountability, responsibility for co-workers, and confidence is fundamental.
4. Follow Local and National Guidelines
Each locality, union, trade organization, and state might implement different safety protocols.
Ensuring that your reciprocating compressor safety requirements are not only up to code, but that employees are properly trained to confirm it stays that way, will keep the workplace a safe environment.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration, under the authority of the U.S. Department of Labor, deals in safety and health recommendations and requirements.
Checking in with OSHA requirements beyond the minimum can help to avoid future problems with the system surrounding any reciprocating compressor.
OSHA not only investigates accidents, it also works with training and standards enforcement.
Sometimes individual states operate under a plan or code of laws which has been approved at the federal level by OSHA.
Compliance with its expectations, whether in a private or public operation, indicates care for employees and a commitment to a healthy workplace.
To ensure your reciprocating compressor is following proper compressor safety, there are simple upgrades you can make to your
- Operational Procedures
- Equipment Maintenance and Inspections
- A Strong Safety Culture
- Guideline and Regulation Procedures
By implementing these compressor safety tips, your efficiency, production, and safety will thrive.
Are you in need of compressor maintenance or valve parts? Contact KB Delta today.
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