Pressure testing of pipe-work
There have been several incidents where blank-ends have failed on rolled groove pipe when placed under a pressure test.
A worker not involved in testing was hospitalised when a rolled groove fitting failed under test after being struck by high-pressure water.
Recently a Plumber received severe facial injuries when he cut the capped end off a 50mm copper line under test.
Previously a worker was killed and his mate seriously injured when a metal cap exploded from a 300mm diameter pipe when it failed whilst under test.
Failures have occurred when testing with water or air.
- Failure of pipe and/or fittings under excessive pressure.
- Failure to identify if the installation is under a pressure test.
Serious injury or death resulting from catastrophic failure when under pressure, or when pressure is released in an uncontrolled manner. For example, a blast of compressed air at 40 psi at 100mm has the potential to rupture an eardrum or cause brain damage.
- When testing with compressed air, never exceed a maximum pressure above 50kPa. Any testing above this maximum must be under direction of a qualified engineer.
- Provision for a pressure gauge, stop valve and bleed valve is compulsory.
- Appropriate training and instruction in procedures for workers involved in the test.
- Designated test/exclusion zone. This may require testing outside of normal working hours.
- Adequate pipe end support.
- Lock-out/tag system to prevent persons other than those involved in the test from accidentally releasing pressure.
- Consideration of the effects of hydro-static head pressure on the system in test.
For pipe-work left under pressure after the test;
- Adequate signage/information for persons other than those involved in the test.
- Protection of pipe-work and fittings with the potential to be damaged.
- See also WSV publication; Safety Alert: "Safe Pressure Testing of Pipes", www.worksafe.vic.gov.au and the PPTEU Hazard Alert: ‘Hydrostatic testing of fire sprinkler suppression systems’
Steve Rocco R3 2023
Download a copy of this hazard alert, so you can print it and inform your work mates