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WARE Cares – Prevention of Safety Violations

Posted by Ritchie Ware on Oct 14, 2015 11:45:41 AM

With boilers becoming increasingly advanced with automation and controls, it is easy for operators to neglect simple safety considerations. These automated safety features lead plant personnel to become “comfortable,” which leads to assuming that it is safe to ignore routine equipment checks.  ware-caution

Routine checks of your boiler and its equipment is the first step in the right direction to prevent safety mishaps. Not only will you improve plant safety, you will improve your boiler’s efficiencies and catch problem areas before they become catastrophic. 

 Two of the most common OSHA violations that occur in and around boiler operations are related to:

1) Fall Prevention – It seems simple, however slips, trips and falls are the number one cause of OSHA recordables in the United States. Keeping the area around you boiler clear of debris, hoses, tools and ladders will go a long way in keeping your operation safe. 

2) Lockout Tag out Procedures: Improper or incomplete lockout tagout procedures are the 2nd largest cause of OSHA recordables as it relates to boiler operation. Following a well-defined lockout tagout procedure will greatly reduce the number of safety violations.   See the list below for an example of a thorough Lockout tagout procedure:

  1. Turn off boiler at the control panel

  2. Turn off control power on control panel.

  3. Turn off power at main breaker panel then lock the control panel.

  4. Shut off main gas valve and lock.

  5. Close pilot light valve.

  6. After boiler has stopped generating steam, close main header valve and lock.

  7. Lock blow down line in closed position.

  8. Switch feed water pump off to boiler.

  9. Close feed water valve.

  10. Open atmospheric valve on main steam header valve.


Here are a few additional checks that can help prevent safety violations and dangerous conditions as it pertains to your boiler operation. In no way is this list exhaustive, but it serves a starting point to begin applying fundamental safety principals. 

  • Be sure there is a minimum clear space of 18 inches on all sides of the boiler. As a minimum, all other sides comply with the boiler manufacturer’s installation instructions for clearances to combustible materials.

  • Have the boiler manufacturer’s installation instructions, operating manual and safety guidelines in an accessible location.

  • Make sure the acceptable level of noise does not exceed the OSHA guidelines; if the guidelines are exceeded, hearing protection is required to avoid OSHA violations. 


    • 90dBA…………….8hrs/day

    • 92dBA…………....6hrs/day 

    • 95dBA……………..4hrs/day

    • 97dBA……………..3hrs/day

    • 100dBA…………….2hrs/day

    • 105dBA……………..1hr/day

  • Make sure the storage method of chemicals used in the treatment and cleaning process is in compliance with state EPA guidelines.

  • Be sure no fuel leaks from fuel tanks are present.

  • Have fire extinguishing devices nearby and make sure they have been recently inspected.

Checklist Your Water Level Indicators and Water Column

  • Check that the lowest visible part of the water gage glass is at least one inch above the lowest permissible water level recommended by the boiler manufacturer.

  • Be sure all trip alarm points are within the visible range of the gage glass.

  • Make sure the ball check valves in upper and lower fittings open by gravity, and the lower ball check valve rises vertically to its seat.

  • Make sure that gage glasses required by code are connected directly to the shell or drum of the boiler or to an intervening water column.

  • Make sure that sludge and sediment is cleaned from the water column or connecting pipes to reduce false water level indications.

  • If there are shut off valves between the steam boiler and water column, they must be of through-flow design and physically locked open.

For additional information about boiler safety attend our next scheduled Boiler University. The next class offered is December 8th – 10th in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Topics: WARE Tip


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