Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is, in no way, intended to be a substitute for legal advice.
Insulation covers are used to protect workers in hot and cold environments such as refrigeration units, boilers, furnaces, and air compressors. They help keep employees comfortable while working in extreme temperatures.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), however, does not regulate the use of insulation covers. Instead, it focuses on ensuring that workplaces are free from hazards. This includes proper training and supervision of workers, adequate ventilation, and the availability of protective equipment.
Here are 4 ways that insulation covers may improve compliance with OSHA regulations.
OSHA requires employers to take steps to protect workers from excessive occupational noise. This includes providing adequate hearing protection, training employees about how to use the appropriate devices, and implementing engineering controls to reduce noise at the source. Whenever feasible, OSHA suggests reducing noise at the source. This typically involves installing sound-absorbing materials or enclosing noisy machinery in acoustical barriers. This practice is commonly known as sound attenuation or acoustic attenuation.
When noise originates from equipment, it may be possible to install removable insulation. This absorbs some of the energy generated by machines and converts it into heat.
Eliminating Wet Floors from Condensation
Condensation occurs when there is a difference in temperature between hot and cold surfaces. This causes moisture to form on cooler surfaces and drip down onto the floor. When it does, it creates a hazard because it could lead to slips and falls. OSHA requires that floors be kept dry. In many cases, this rule is easy to follow. However, sometimes condensation can occur without you knowing about it.
For example, when there is a difference between cold water pipe temperature and air temperature, condensation forms. If this happens, the droplets fall onto the floor. Insulation jackets for cold pipes eliminate condensation to help keep things dry.
Replacing Potentially Harmful Insulation
One insulation material that is subject to OSHA regulations is asbestos. OSHA requires employees to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever there is a risk of being exposed to hazardous substances. Workers must adhere to strict protocol when working around asbestos. They must also wear gloves and eye protection when handling asbestos-containing material.
Two common areas that OSHA says may contain asbestos are “pipe and boiler insulation materials.” If your insulation is made of asbestos-containing materials, it may be necessary to replace it with a safer option.
Reducing Exposure to Hot Pipes
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not actually have a separate regulation in its general industry standard (rules which apply to all workplaces subject to the agency’s rules) that specifically regulates when exposed hot pipes need to be protected. However, OSHA has issued a letter of interpretation stating that it considers exposed heated surfaces, if they are potentially dangerous, to be a safety violation. This includes exposed heated surfaces that could cause burns to workers’ hands, arms, legs, etc.
In that interpretation, OSHA cited two standards, one governing the textile industry and another covering pulp, paper, and related products. Both state that “All pipes carrying steam or hot water for process or servicing machinery must be covered with a heat insulator,” according to the letter. The letter notes that both standards define “hot water” as being over 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
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Fit Tight Covers’ unique fabrication process is based on 25 years of testing and development, resulting in the best-designed removable insulation covers utilizing the best materials. If you’re interested in learning more about custom removable thermal insulation covers, request a quote today!