I am a part of a group that is currently reviewing and updating the company’s safety standards. The company has mainly focused on the industrial process plant in the past, designating R&D along with all administrative areas as “unclassified”. This has allowed the lab to conduct research with minimal need for permits, MOCs, and other obstacles that are more pressing at the plant scale (kTon). It is quite obvious that R&D is more hazardous than an office area and thus should adhere to more stringent standards. My goal as the R&D representative is to make the laboratory as safe as possible without completely hindering progress.
My question lies within the Line/Vessel Opening safety standard. The current policy states “a permit is required before any line can be opened or removed.” At the laboratory scale this doesn’t seem practical. We build our vacuum/pressure/piping systems ourselves in most cases (using the appropriate glassware or stainless steel for the conditions) and often make modifications based on reaction observations and results. It is important to note that we do not modify vessels that are rated for pressurized reactions, only the piping that feeds the gas. Our piping systems are primarily 1/4” or 1/8” SS or copper tubing which we cut and bend ourselves. Is it necessary to write a permit for each modification? Are there certain exceptions I can site when writing this standard?
Also, technically changing gas cylinders involves a line opening as well. We have a lab SOP for this process. Should a permit be required?
I am the CHO for my lab and a researcher, so I’d like to find a compromise that puts safety first without impeding lab work entirely.
Does anyone have experience with this type of situation/policy?
R&D Facility Lead
Emerald Kalama Chemical, LLC
1296 Third St NW
Kalama, WA 98625
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