Generally, a pressure vessel is a storage tank or vessel that
has been designed to operate at pressures above 15 p.s.i.g. Recent inspections
of pressure vessels have shown that there are a considerable number of cracked
and damaged vessels in workplaces. Cracked and damaged vessels can result in
leakage or rupture failures. Potential health and safety hazards of leaking
vessels include poisonings, suffocations, fires, and explosion hazards. Rupture
failures can be much more catastrophic and can cause considerable damage to life
and property. The safe design, installation, operation, and maintenance of
pressure vessels in accordance with the appropriate codes and standards are
essential to worker safety and health.
Pressure vessel hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, and the construction industry.
This section highlights OSHA standards and national consensus standards related to pressure vessels.
Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
- 1910.101, Compressed gases (general requirements)
- 1910.102, Acetylene
- 1910.103, Hydrogen
- 1910.104, Oxygen
- 1910.105, Nitrous oxide
- 1910.106, Flammable liquids
- 1910.110, Storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases
- 1910.169, Air receivers
- 1910.217, Mechanical power presses
- 1910 Subpart R, Special industries
- 1910.263, Bakery equipment
Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
- 1910 Subpart C, General safety and health provisions
- 1926.29, Acceptable certifications
- 1926 Subpart F, Fire protection and prevention
- 1926 Subpart I, Tools - hand and power
- 1926.306, Air receivers
- 1926 Subpart O, Motor vehicles, mechanized equipment, and marine options
- 1926.603, Pile driving equipment
Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection, and may be referenced by OSHA inspectors for informational purposes.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- 2004 Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code
American Petroleum Institute (API)
- 510, Pressure Vessel Inspection Code: Maintenance Inspection, Rating, Repair, and Alteration. 9th ed. (2006, June 1).
- 572, Inspection of Pressure Vessels. (2009, November).
- 910, Digest of State Boiler, Pressure Vessel, Piping & Aboveground Storage Tank Rules and Regulations. 8th ed. (1997, November 1).
- 620, Design and Construction of Large, Welded, Low-Pressure Storage Tanks. 11th ed. (2008, February 1).
- 941, Steels for Hydrogen Service at Elevated Temperatures and Pressures in Petroleum Refineries and Petrochemical Plants. 6th ed. (2004, February).
- 945, Avoiding Environmental Cracking in Amine Units. 3rd ed. (2003, June).
The following references provide information to help with the recognition and control of pressure vessel hazards.
- OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (1999, January 20).
- Pressure Vessel Guidelines. Provides technical information on pressure vessel types, cracking experience, examination methods, and safety assessments.
- Guidelines for Pressure Vessel Safety. OSHA Directive STD 01-10-001 [PUB 8-1.5], (1989, August 14). Presents a technical overview and information on metallic pressure containment vessels and tanks. Also provides information on design codes, construction materials, fabrication processes, inspection, and testing applicable to these vessels and tanks.
- "Pressure." Volume II: Health & Safety -- Controls and Hazards; Environmental Safety and Health Manual. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
- Potential Over Pressurization of Bromochlorodimethylhydantoin (BCDMH) Treatment Systems. OSHA Health Information Bulletin (HIB), (1994, August 30). Describes how these systems experienced an unexpected and rapid evolution of gases causing the feed system to over-pressurize and rupture.
- Potential for Feed Water Pipes in Electrical Power Generation Facilities to Rupture Causing Hazardous Release of Steam and Hot Water. OSHA Health Information Bulletin (HIB), (1996, October 31). Describes how feed water pipe failures were attributed to wall thinning as a result of single-phase erosion/corrosion, leading to rupture of the pipes under high working pressures.
- "Pressure Testing." Volume II: Health & Safety -- Controls and Hazards; Environmental Safety and Health Manual. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
- "Pressure Vessel and System Design." Volume II: Health & Safety -- Controls and Hazards; Environmental Safety and Health Manual. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Related Safety and Health Topics Pages
- Web-based Training Courses . Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
- High Pressure Safety. Includes modules on pumps and compressors, hydrogen safety, and fittings and equipment.
- National Board Series Technical Articles. National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBI).
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