Pressure plant and equipment such as boilers, compressed air receivers and other pressure vessels can be hazardous, particularly in an industrial environment where they can seriously injure or kill workers.

PCBUs must ensure that regular maintenance, inspection and testing of the pressure equipment be conducted by a competent person.

Hazard levels

Pressure vessels can be rated from A through to E, with A being the most hazardous and E the least hazardous.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a pressure vessels hazard level, which include:

  • size
  • pressure
  • temperature
  • location
  • usage
  • contents type.

Pressure equipment is required to be registered according to the identified hazard level and regularly inspected by a competent person to ensure it is safe to operate.

Licence requirements

You will need a high risk work licence to operate specific pressure equipment in South Australia including:

  • standard boilers above 150 kw (unless certified compliant to AS 2593 for unattended operation)
  • advanced boilers above 150 kw (unless certified compliant to AS 2593 for unattended operation)
  • steam turbines
  • reciprocating steam engines.

Boiler operation

To achieve compliance for boiler operation you must have:

  • a current plant registration number
  • an operator with high risk work licence or is trained by an RTO to safely operate the plant
  • a current boiler inspection certificate
  • an independent assessment for certificate of attendance category
  • a logbook in place and up to date
  • a notice for safe operation, testing, cleaning and maintenance displayed
  • a program and procedures for the operation
  • completed a hazard and risk assessment.

Compressed air

General safety requirements

  • Consider PPE when using compressed air; goggles, face shield and other eye protection when used for cleaning purposes.
  • Assess the hazards and risks and put controls in place to minimise the risk of injury to people and equipment before using compressed air.
  • Do not point air tools or cleaning tools at people as this can result in injuries. Common injuries include eye and skin damage. They are further exacerbated when broken skin injuries exist.

Air supply

  • Maximum rated pressure must be marked on pipes, hoses and fittings. The pressure rating must be greater than the design pressure for the system for intended use. Air lines should be marked and colour-coded to identify for use with compressed air only.
  • Position air supply isolation valves as close as possible to the point of operation to allow immediate shut off in the event of an emergency.
  • Before disconnecting hand tools, turn off the air. Except where quick disconnect devices are used.

Hoses

  • Keep hoses free of oil and grease to minimise deterioration.
  • Secure air hoses so that the risk of hose end whipping does not occur. Hose end whipping can lead to accidents and serious injuries.
  • Avoid trailing hoses across floors to prevent trips and falls in the workplace. Suspend hoses overhead to allow efficient access and protection from damage.

Electricity

  • When using air tools, static electricity can generate. Equipment should be grounded where using such equipment in the vicinity of fuels, flammable vapours or explosive atmospheres.

Cleaning

  • Air should never be used to clean dust off clothing or person’s skin.
  • For bench cleaning, the pressure should be reduced to 100kPa unless equipped with a diffuser nozzle to provide a lesser pressure. Alternatively, consider using a vacuum cleaner as this is safer and cleans away debris for safe disposal. Cleaning with air only moves the debris from one area to another.

Importing pressure equipment

The importer must conduct a hazard level identification and risk assessment as if they were the designer and manufacturer of the plant. Any risks must be eliminated or minimised.

The importer must provide and relevant information relating to the design and safe use of the plant to the end user.

Further information

Information sheet – compressed air - Safe Work Australia

Plant design, supply and registration - Safe Work Australia

AS/NZS 1200 Pressure Equipment

AS 2593 Boilers – Safety management and supervision systems

AS/NZS 3788 In-service inspection of pressure equipment

AS 4343 Pressure equipment – hazard levels

WHS Regulations 224 and 739

Page last updated: 27 March 2020