Accidents involving exploding boilers or fires can be dangerous to human life, damage property and ultimately have a negative effect on production. The problems most commonly associated with accidents include poorly designed boilers, wrongly sited boilers, wrongly installed boilers, and boilers that have not been correctly operated or maintained.
The following information lays out the requirements for the safe management of boiler rooms to ensure that people using the building are not at risk from any hazards that can be caused by unsafe boilers.
Basic Requirement for the Installation Room
The boiler room must adhere to the following basic requirements:
- The boiler system can only be installed in a room that meets the local regulations for the installation of boiler systems.
- The room must be kept clean, uncluttered and free from dripping water or dust.
- The inside temperature of the room must be between 5°C and 40°C.
- If the air contains salt due to proximity to the sea, the intervals between maintenance should be shortened.
- It must be made clear through permanent, clearly visible notices that unauthorised persons are forbidden from accessing the boiler room.
- Sound insulation must meet the requirements of local regulations (see link above).
- Control cabinets for the boiler system must be installed in such a way that no vibrations of the system components can be transmitted to the control cabinets.
- Control cabinets must be installed in such a way that protects them against excessive radiated heat.
- Free access to inspection openings on plant components and boilers must be ensured.
How to Safely Manage a Commercial Boiler Room
Once the boiler is installed in an appropriate room, it needs to be properly managed to ensure that it remains safe and doesn’t become hazardous or pose a danger to staff or members of the public. The following advice will help:
Keep the Room Clear
The boiler room must remain a room that is for the boiler only. It should not be used as a storage room for other items, or used in any other way. The burners in a boiler need proper air circulation so that they don’t start producing carbon monoxide, which can be impeded by having other items in the room. There is also the risk of accidentally placing something flammable in the room. One of the best things you can do for boiler safety is to ensure that nothing is in there that shouldn’t be in there.
Complete Regular Inspections and Maintenance
Adhering to a strict routine of inspections and maintenance will help to foresee any future problems and act on them before they become an issue. Regular testing of boiler controls, limiting devices and feed water quality is essential to ensure the boiler continues to be safe, reliable and efficient. The routine tests as recommended by the boiler’s manufacturer should be carried out as minimum, but the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends more frequent testing may be necessary in certain circumstances ‘for example, where water quality is poor and there is a high dependence on water treatment, more frequent testing of the water and blowdown of the boiler may be required’.
Monitor New Equipment
If new boiler equipment is installed or repairs are done to existing equipment, it’s vital to do a full examination of the boiler afterwards to make sure everything is working properly. A trained expert should monitor the boiler to make sure the installation has been successful and the boiler is running safely and efficiently. When carrying out monitoring and tests, the results should always be recorded. The HSE recommends that the results include:
- The results of the test and comparison against required values.
- Identification of the operator who carried out the tests.
- The date the test took place.
- Any corrective action that was taken, if necessary.
Create and Follow Checklists
Taking into account recommendations from the manufacturer, checklists should be created for all procedures related to the boiler and any other equipment located within the boiler room and followed very strictly. This should include starting up the boiler, shutting down the boiler, running tests, performing maintenance and everything in between. The HSE recommends the following records should also be created and retained:
- The report of the last examination of the boiler.
- Details of repairs or modifications to the system.
- Any previous reports containing information relating to the safe operation of the system.
- Routine testing records for the past two years.
- Technical documentation provided by the manufacturer and installer.
Emergency Training and Safety Equipment
If you use best practice when checking and maintaining a boiler, it is unlikely an emergency will occur. However, it’s vital to be prepared just in case. Anyone who is required to spend any amount of time in the boiler room should go through relevant emergency training. There should also be appropriate emergency equipment to hand, for example goggles, hard hats and fire extinguishers.
By performing regular checks and maintenance on your boiler and boiler room you can ensure that it is performing efficiently and safely. Monitoring equipment, creating and following checklists and keeping records will also help to make sure it isn’t hazardous. Making sure the necessary people are trained in what to do in an emergency will ensure that all staff and visitors in a building won’t be put in danger.