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Composite Fan Blades – A Replacement in Kind?

Imagine we’ve decided to replace the existing fans of an air unit (probably a blast cell) with composite blades. Should you consider that a Replacement in Kind?

Before we go into the change, you might be asking why people would change from a metal fan to a composite. The answer is usually three-fold:

  • Composites allow for some really elaborate / efficient shapes that are difficult to pull off with traditional metal blades. This means that the fan blades can be designed for low noise or to maximize throughput / throw. It’s not uncommon to see a composite blade manufacturer claim a 5% energy savings by using these types of fans.
  • Corrosion Resistance. The commonly used FRP (Fiber reinforced polymer) blades are more resistant to common cleaning chemicals and water than traditional metal fans.
  • Composite fans usually provide a far better weight/strength ratio than even cast aluminum. This means higher efficiency, lower motor wear, etc.

Should you consider the replacement of traditional metal fans (in an air unit for example) as a Replacement in Kind? My thinking on this is the same as the answer to every other “Is it a Replacement in Kind” question: It’s a change that falls under the MOC procedure(s) until you prove that it isn’t.

To meet the lowest possible compliance threshold of OSHA and the EPA we have to know if it “satisfies the design specification.” In this case, that pretty much comes down to asking if it has the same (or better) performance characteristics as the fan it’s replacing.

Assuming you do those checks, and you find the new fan can operate at the same temperatures, static pressure, speed, etc. as the old fan, OSHA and the EPA would allow us to qualify this as a Replacement in Kind. As always, I would suggest you document that work so you can prove you’ve correctly qualified the change as a Replacement in Kind. That’s the minimal compliance answer. The process safety answer is different and it’s the answer you should care about!

For the process safety answer we also ask a few more questions. For example:

  • Does the fan have the same MI requirements?
  • Does the fan have the same failure modes?
  • Are our PHA answers concerning fans (evaporators, condensers, etc.) still the same based on these new fans?

I would like to focus on the PHA question because the others are part of our PHA answer. If you are using the IIAR’s What-If checklist (or something like it) you have a question that looks like this:

EV1.22  What If…a fan fails catastrophically? (air unit cooler only)

It’s likely you answered that for metal fans by saying there were appropriate safeguards to control this hazard such as your MI program, daily walk-through’s, 5yr independent inspections, etc. It’s also likely that if you had those safeguards in place you made “no recommendation” on that question.

Now, let me ask: What if the new fans have different failure modes / MI requirements? Wouldn’t that change your analysis?

Recently I’ve been getting reports of fan failures in the field. While not unheard of with traditional metal fans, these reports lately seem to all be about composite fan blades.

What we seem to be seeing in these composite fan failures is that they appear to be caused by:

  • Turbulent uneven air flow through the coil (usually caused by debris on the coil but could also be caused by partially blocking the airflow out of a coil)
  • The turbulent air flow causes the fan to oscillate, sometimes at a resonant frequency
  • Over time this resonant frequency causes small stress cracks to start on the fan blade at the hub
  • If the condition lasts long enough, the crack propagates, and the fan catastrophically fails

Now, that’s not a failure mode / sequence of events we are used to seeing on traditional metal fan blades. Does that mean we shouldn’t use composite blades? No, of course not – it means Identifying new hazards like this requires us to institute new / altered controls. Some good examples of appropriate changes:

  • LOWER our acceptable threshold for debris on air unit intakes. This could mean more walk-through’s or just more debris removal. We’re not talking about dust buildup here, we’re talking about the removal of large debris: cardboard chunks, labels, etc. The things that are likely to cause turbulent and uneven flow through the unit.
  • LOWER our acceptable threshold for product blocking airflow out of a coil.
  • Specifically look for signs of cracks during annual / 5yr MI inspections.

Making changes to our program like this show us that the change from a traditional fan blades to composite fan blades should not be treated as a Replacement in Kind. It is, however, a fairly simple Management of Change. I want to re-emphasize here, had we chosen to view this change as a Replacement in Kind, we would have missed these opportunities to identify and control these new hazards introduced by the change.

IIAR 5 updates out for Public Review

The IIAR has announced the Second (2nd) Public Review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems. This is another “partial” review in that it only shows the changed text in context, not the whole standard. I can already see that the PSM-related section in 5.4.1 is tying itself in knots trying to avoid using the term “review the PHA” like the new IIAR Compliance Guidelines draft will. Your review of these documents – and your subsequent comments – help guide our industry.


 

March 22nd, 2019
To: IIAR Members
Re: Second (2nd) Public Review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems

A second (2nd) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 5-201x, defines the minimum requirements for startup of closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of an ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who startup closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 5-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the second (2nd) public review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process, and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 5-201x, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

 

The 30-day public review period will be from March 22nd, 2019 through April 21st, 2019. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on April 21st, 2019.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

Contractors and their work on our NH3 Refrigeration Systems

It’s an all too common occurrence to receive a phone call that starts something like this:

I had some work performed by a contractor over the weekend. Do I need to fill out any paperwork for that?

Short answer, YES.

Long Answer: You should have done that AT THE TIME so now you might want to also consider an Incident Investigation to figure out how you managed to avoid your PSM program requirements on Hot Work, Line-Opening, SOPs, Management of Change, Pre-Startup Safety Review, etc…

These situations are humbling for all involved. It’s helpful to remember that Compliance is a goal we are always striving towards. Still, if we’ve been providing this information the same way for YEARS and it’s still not getting through, part of you begins to wonder if there isn’t a better way (cue the infomercials) to establish BASELINE awareness of these requirements. PSM programs have included guidance on ALL these requirements for decades, but it doesn’t seem to be translating into effective action.

Perhaps there is another way to jump-start that awareness? In an attempt to do just that, I created a simple little flowchart to give to Operators AND Contractor Service Technicians / Construction personnel.

To integrate this into the overall PSM/RMP program, this was placed in the Program Management System Written Plan in the first binder of the PSM program that (in my systems) is entitled “01 – EPA RMP.” The new section is directly after the “Implementation Policy: Management of Program Activities” section.

I also referenced this guidance where appropriate throughout the program. In the same Program Management System Written Plan’s “Implementation Policy: Management of Program Activities” section, the text was altered to point to this new guidance.

  • Activities Triggered by a Change: Certain PSM/RMP program activities are triggered when a change is made to the ammonia refrigeration system. See the “Implementation Policy: Management of Contractor / Operator Activities” for informative guidance and then consult the MOC/PSSR Written Plan to manage and track these activities.
  • Activities Triggered by Maintenance to the Systems: Maintenance to the system can trigger other PSM/RMP program policies / procedures. Examples include Lockout/Tagout, Line & Equipment Opening, and Hot Work permit procedures.  See the “Implementation Policy: Management of Contractor / Operator Activities” for informative guidance and then consult the Mechanical Integrity Written Plan to manage and track these activities.

It’s referenced in the Mechanical Integrity Written Plan in the “Implementation Policy: Quality Assurance” section which now ends with:

See the “Implementation Policy: Management of Contractor / Operator Activities” for additional informative guidance concerning operator and contractor work conducted on the system.

It’s also referenced in the Contractor Written Plan in the “Implementation Policy: Our Responsibilities concerning Affecting Contractors” and “Implementation Policy: Affecting Contractors responsibilities” sections which now end with:

See the “Implementation Policy: Management of Contractor / Operator Activities” for additional informative guidance concerning contractor work conducted on the system.

Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, Standard for Safe design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

February 8, 2019
To: IIAR Members
Re: Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, Standard for Safe design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

A fourth (4th) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 2-2014 Addendum A, Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A specifies the minimum safety criteria for design of closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of ammonia refrigerating system(s) and basic ammonia refrigerating practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who develop, define, implement and/or review the design of ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the revised standard as BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the fourth (4th) public review of BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

The 30-day public review period will be from February 8, 2019 to March 10, 2019. Comments are due no later than March 10, 2019.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 2-2014, Addendum A, Standard for Safe Design of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

OSHA Raising Fines Again!

January 15, 2019- The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act) requires the Department to annually adjust its civil monetary penalty levels for inflation no later than January 15 of each year. Adjustments are made by issuing a final rule that is effective on its date of publication in the Federal Register.

Source: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/2019InflationAdjustments.pdf

Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 6

December 7th, 2018

To:

IIAR Members

Re:

Fourth (4th) Public Review of Standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

A fourth (4th) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 6-201x, specifies the minimum requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance applicable to stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who inspect, test, and maintain stationary closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 6-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the fourth (4th) public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 6-201x and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

 

The 45-day public review period will be from December 7th, 2018 through January 21st, 2019. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on January 21st, 2019.

Thank you for your interest in the public review of BSR/IIAR 6-201x, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems.

Please take time to review these changes. As we’ve stated previously, IIAR 6 will be the biggest change to Ammonia Refrigeration practices since the advent of PSM/RMP.

The long-delayed 2017 EPA RMP amendments are finally in effect

Action: Final rule; announcement of effective date.

Summary: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the amendments to the Risk Management Program under the Clean Air Act put forward in a final rule published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017 are in effect.

Dates: The rule amending 40 CFR part 68, published at 82 FR 4594 (January 13, 2017) and delayed at 82 FR 8499 (January 26, 2017), 82 FR 13968 (March 16, 2017), and 82 FR 27133 (June 14, 2017), is effective December 3, 2018.

Source: regulations.gov

 

We’ve been warning about it for a while, but it’s finally happened: The 2017 Obama EPA RMP amendments are now in effect. You need to make changes to your RMP prevention program to be compliant with these changes.

We have created two documents to assist you in making these changes:

  1. First, is a “clean” CFR. That is, a version of the RMP Rule that shows it as we believe it is right now. Note, there are minor errors in the actual RMP rule as filed in the Federal Register, so we’ll update this as the filing is fixed. 38 page “Clean” CFR link (here).
  2. We have also created a list of changes – arranged by PSM/RMP element – that need to be made to your RC&E PSM program to become compliant with the updated RMP rule. We’ve created a 10 page PDF with that information (here).

 

Feel free to Contact Us via if you would like assistance from RC&E in updating your PSM/RMP program to comply with these new requirements.

 

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Update on the Cyrus Shank LQ Series Relief Valves Replacement Schedule

A little over a year ago, our Process Safety Engineer, Josh Latovich, posted an article entitled “The Cyrus Shank LQ Series Relief Valves – A Discussion on Manufacturer’s Recommendations and the 5 Year Pressure Relief Valve Interval.” The article dealt with confusion surrounding dueling RAGAGEP’s for the replacement interval of hydrostatic valves.

Since that time the issue has come up repeatedly with various opinions provided by industry organizations, end-users, OSHA & EPA inspectors and others. In an October 10th, 2017 update to the article to say “If the Cyrus Shank engineering department changes their position then this issue can be re-evaluated…”

Well, GOOD NEWS. At the 2018 RETA Conference in Dallas, TX this week I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with Cyrus Shank engineer Matt Powell. He was willing to discuss the issue and provide assistance to resolve this issue. Here’s what we need from Cyrus Shank regarding this issue:

 

This means that the manufacturer is onboard with the IIAR’s position on NOT having to replace these valves if they are visually inspected.

THAT SAID, you still need to look at the FUNCTION of these valves in your system during your Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) to see if their failure will negatively impact your system. In the way they are NORMALLY used, a failure of these valves would cause efficiency issues, rather than safety ones. But you will need to look at the unique situation you have with them before deciding whether a replacement schedule is appropriate or not.

Thanks again to Matt Powell and Cyrus Shank for finally putting this issue to rest. You can download a copy of the letter from them at this link.

For a full recap of the issue, you can go to the original article.

IIAR 5 Public Review #1

The IIAR’s Standard 5 Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems  is often overlooked. They’ve just announced a public review of an updated version of the standard. No changelog was provided, but it looks like a fairly minor 5yr maintenance update at first glance.

To: IIAR Members
Re: First (1st) Public Review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
A first (1st) public review of draft standard BSR/IIAR 5-201x, Startup of Closed-Circuit Ammonia Refrigeration Systems is now open. The International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) invites you to make comments on the draft standard. Substantive changes resulting from this public review will also be provided for comment in a future public review if necessary.

BSR/IIAR 5-201x, defines the minimum requirements for startup of closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. It presupposes that the persons who use the document have a working knowledge of the functionality of an ammonia refrigeration system(s) and basic ammonia refrigeration practices and principles. This standard is intended for those who startup closed-circuit ammonia refrigeration systems. This standard shall apply only to stationary closed-circuit refrigeration systems utilizing ammonia as the refrigerant. It supplements existing general refrigeration standards issued by IIAR and other organizations such as ASHRAE, ASME, and ANSI. It is not intended to supplant existing safety codes (e.g., model mechanical or fire codes).

IIAR has designated the draft standard as BSR/IIAR 5-201x. Upon approval by the ANSI Board of Standards Review, the standard will receive a different name that reflects this approval date.

We invite you to participate in the first (1st) public review of BSR/IIAR 5-201x. IIAR will use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures to develop evidence of consensus among affected parties. ANSI’s role in the revision process is to establish and enforce standards of openness, balance, due process, and harmonization with other American and International Standards. IIAR is the ANSI-accredited standards developer for BSR/IIAR 5-201x, and is responsible for the technical content of the standard.

This site includes links to the following attachments:

The 45-day public review period will be from October 26th, 2018 through December 10th, 2018. Comments are due no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on December 10th, 2018.

2017 RMP Updates – The end of the road?

Near the end of 2016, the Obama EPA published an updated RMP rule. It was officially entered into the CFR on January 13th, 2017. Since then, many things have happened:

  • It was delayed until Mar. 17, 2017, at 82 FR 8499, on Jan. 26, 2017;
  • It was further delayed until June 19, 2017, at 82 FR 13968, on Mar. 16, 2017;
  • It was further delayed yet again until Feb. 19, 2019, at 82 FR 27133, on June 14, 2017;
  • It was tentatively replaced on May 17, 2018;
  • It was un-delayed and re-instated by the DC District Court on August 17, 2018;
  • It was re-delayed by the SAME DC District Court on September 9, 2018; and
  • It was AGAIN un-delayed and re-instated by the SAME DC District Court on September 21, 2018

After all that, the RMP rule as amended at the tail of the Obama administration is now surprisingly in effect, even though it is currently being replaced. That means every RMP facility in the country is suddenly out of compliance. This led the EPA to publish an un-signed, un-dated, Compliance Bulletin at the end of September, 2018.

Based on how we read it, that compliance bulletin essentially tells us that the EPA is DONE fighting the delay in the courts. They are going to implement and (to some degree) enforce the Obama-era rule and continue with their new rule-making process which should (eventually) reverse many of these changes.

In the interim, we are stuck with an updated, enforceable, RMP rule. This means that there are new/updated EPA RMP requirements that your program needs to be updated to address.

We have created two documents to assist you in making these changes:

  1. First, is a “clean” CFR. That is, a version of the RMP Rule that shows it as we believe it is right now. Note, there are minor errors in the actual RMP rule as filed in the Federal Register, so we’ll update this as the filing is fixed. 38 page “Clean” CFR link (here).
  2. We have also created a list of changes – arranged by PSM/RMP element – that need to be made to your RC&E PSM program to become compliant with the updated RMP rule. We’ve created a 10 page PDF with that information (here).

Feel free to Contact Us via if you would like assistance from RC&E in updating your program.


Previous Coverage:

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040217

061217

051718

081718

 

 

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