Boiler Safety Tips to Prepare for an Emergency

Industrial boilers are used in many different industries to provide a heat source for various utilities and they generate heat through combustion, steam generation, or the recovery of heat energy from other processes.  Many companies and institutions from gas companies and manufacturers to the hospitality industry rely on these complex boilers to generate much needed heat for their operations.  All types of boilers including water boilers and steam boilers have hundreds of working parts that operate in stressful conditions, so there is always the risk of a malfunction.

Malfunctioning boilers not only halt operations that can cost your business money, they are also dangerous and can cause serious injuries to your employees.  It is very important to be prepared for any type of boiler malfunction so that you can resolve these issues quickly to prevent injury and save your company time and money.  The following safety tips will help you prepare for and respond boiler emergencies.

Install External Boiler Connections

Boilers are typically installed in a fully enclosed structure for safety.  However, this can make it difficult to provide boiler repair and maintenance or reach the emergency connections.  In some cases, it may be necessary to bring in a portable boiler to provide temporary heat while the issue is resolved.  External emergency connections make it much easier and quicker to hook up a backup boiler in case of an emergency.  If the emergency connections of your boiler are hidden, you should consider installing external boiler connections.

Backup Plan for Fuel

If your boiler operates on natural gas, it is important to have a backup plan in case you cannot use your regular fuel.  Natural gas boilers can operate safely on propane and #2 fuel as well as natural gas.  By keeping an emergency supply of one of these alternative fuel sources, you can have your boiler running within hours of a fuel shortage or disabled fuel line.  This simple precaution will save you plenty of lost time.

Establish a Procedure for Emergency Shutdowns

There are times when you will be forced to power down your boiler and take it out of service.  It helps to have a detailed procedure established for emergency shutdowns to ensure that it is done properly and safely.  Shutting a boiler down improperly can cause further damage to the boiler.  If you need to establish an emergency shutdown plan, do so with help from your most experienced employees.

Establish Lockout-Tagout Procedure

Shutting down your boiler safely is one thing, but you must also take steps to ensure that no one tries to power it back up until the issue is resolved.  This can happen if someone on a later shift finds the boiler powered down and restarts it without realizing it was shut down for a specific problem.  Establishing a lockout-tagout procedure will help prevent these types of dangerous accidents.  The employees responsible for the emergency shutdown should leave a tag on the boiler to let others know that the boiler is out of service and cannot be fired back up without their approval.  There are many different ways you can apply lockout-tagout principles, but make sure your entire team understands the procedure.

Emergency Evacuation Plan

Some emergency situations will require an immediate evacuation to prevent injury to your employees.  These types of emergencies can be chaotic which is why it helps to have a clear emergency evacuation plan in place.  Post maps of the evacuation routes around your facility and mark the evacuation routes clearly to avoid confusion in an emergency.  You can also hold drills to practice the emergency evacuation to ensure that your employees know exactly what to do.

If a boiler emergency happens when you are unprepared, it will be much too late to implement these safety tips and prevent a prolonged and costly shut down.  By taking these safety precautions and establishing procedures for emergency situations, you will be prepared to recover from a boiler malfunction quickly and reduce the risk of injuries.  Indeck is a leading manufacturer of industrial boilers and we provide rental boilers for temporary heat and power in emergency situations.  Contact Indeck at (847) 541-8300 if you need emergency rental equipment.