09262016Mon
Last updateMon, 26 Sep 2016 6pm

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Standards

Safety: It’s Not About Rules and Regulations

Safety at the refineryOn Aug. 2, 2016, OSHA fines increased, but critics ask: Does this higher fine actually increase safety?

Business leaders in a safety sensitive sector like the valve industry understand the need to be safe and profitable under any circumstances. It is not an “either or” choice. Disaster lies ahead if we allow production concerns to justify cutting safety corners. Consider that perhaps the safest manufacturing company is one that is shut down. On the other hand, if a company simply cranks out product without regard to maintenance, testing, engineering and quality assurance, it is doubtful the company would remain in business very long due to actual or perceived problems with safety. A healthy safety culture that empowers employees is the most certain way to ensure that safety, production and quality are in harmony.


New Test Stamp and More Updates on Pressure Vessel Codes

A new test organization program and stamp has been authorized by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBI), effective February 2016.

The NBBI is comprised of chief boiler inspectors representing government agencies from across the United States & Canada. In addition to its mandate to register all manufactured boilers and pressure vessels and investigating accidents involving these devices, the board assists in the establishment of manufacturing, maintenance and repair standards for boiler and pressure vessels.

At the 2016 Valve Repair Council meeting, Joseph Ball, a representative of the Board, brought attendees up to speed on this and other National Board Inspection Code (NBIC) Updates.

Intermediate Class Valves, the Forgotten Classification

These days, piping designers use automated systems that default to standard classifications such as pressure classes of 150 to 2500 for valves and associated equipment. The identification and use of an intermediate class would require a manual intervention by the designer, and the creation of a specific project level piping class. However, the cost savings can be significant.

Valves manufactured in accordance with the Specification for Pipeline and Piping Valves, API 6D, are required to comply with the pressure-temperature ratings for class-rated valves, as listed in the valve standard ASME B16.34. These ratings are grouped by material and list the allowable working pressures and temperatures. For example, group 1.1 materials, which include ASTM A105, ASTM A350 LF2 and ASTM A216 WCB, have a working pressure of 1480 psi for a standard class 600. The listed working pressures start at ambient (-20°F to +100°F) and at higher temperatures the working pressures start to reduce. These pressure and temperature limits are programmed into the piping design software.

Industry and Regulatory Changes in Offshore Operations

On May 13, 2016, the offshore oil and gas industry received an important safety update from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Equipment manufacturers and operators of offshore wells were informed of defective bolts located on critical safety equipment. The problem was not new—in fact, BSEE cited reports going back as far as 2003—but things had reached a critical point.

The recent incidents involved bolts shearing on blowout preventers—one of the pieces of equipment implicated in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Blowout preventers are a last line of defense in the well-control hierarchy. Fortunately, they are rarely needed and some would say they are a valve system of last resort, with the bluntest closure being achieved when the powerful blind shear ram severs and seals the pipe in order to cut off flow in a worst-case scenario.

Safety All the Way at VMA’s 2016 Technical Seminar

To meet the increasingly stringent environmental and safety standards instituted by governments and standards boards, manufacturers and users alike must be constantly aware of changes and challenges for which they are ultimately responsible. Thus, the topic for this year’s VMA Technical Seminar, held March 10-11 in New Orleans, was greatly appreciated by the attendees as they were able to gather much-needed information from experts in the manufacturing, engineering and end-user sectors who shared their knowledge on this most important topic.

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