27 February, 2020
Pressure Vessels - Are You Compliant?
|Left to right Robert Fourie - Lonza - with Ian Morgan Smith
If you've ever wondered why there is so much arduous legislation
governing pressure vessel equipment, then consider the severity of a system
failure that results in an explosion, fire and flying debris causing loss of
life and damage to property.
According to JJ du Plessis, the Senior Business Manager at Lonza Wood
Protection (SA) Pty Ltd, the difference between the pressure inside a pressure
vessel and the pressure outside makes for a potentially hazardous situation. For
this reason, the manufacture, maintenance, repair and any modifications to a
pressure vessel must be specified by engineering authorities and ratified by
It is a well-known fact that many recorded incidents involving pressure
vessel malfunction could have been prevented by a stricter enforcement of
regulations and safety standards. The Pressure Equipment Regulation (PER), the
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and SANS 347 all have a common goal to
protect people and property. Inspection is therefore both required and smart
practice for anyone who wants to avoid an accident that could result in
potentially fatal injury to workers, unplanned downtime and a damaged treatment
"The PER legal requirement is also very clear on the fact that all persons
that perform any task associated with a pressure vessel should have knowledge
of and experience in the requirements of the pressure vessel operation as set
out in SANS 347. Through Lonza's onsite customer training service, we have
witnessed how properly trained staff dilutes the hazards associated with working
with pressure vessels," explains du Plessis.
Because Lonza is not only a chemical manufacturer in the South African
market, but also lease out its own Tanalith® treatment
to its customers, the company is invested in understanding
"Compliance forms an integral part of our organization's duties with
respect to building trust in the communities to which we belong and ensuring
the consistency of our products and services.
We understand our own liability of non-compliance and the importance of
ensuring that every task is always done to specification. This comprehension
gives our engineering team the upper hand when helping our customers achieve
compliance," says du Plessis.
Edition 2 of SANS 347 published by the South African Bureau of
Standards (SABS) states that "every pressure vessel is subjected to an internal
and external inspection and a hydraulic test by an approved inspection
authority at intervals not exceeding 36 months. Where an inspection or test
carried out reveals any weakness or defect whereby the safety of persons may be
endangered, the weakness or defect must be
reported to the user by the person carrying out the inspection and the user must
cease the use of the pressure equipment until such weakness or defect has been
rectified to the satisfaction of the approved inspection authority".
"Bear in mind that having to shut down your operation as a result of a
failed inspection is very costly in downtime. The major thrust of this code of
practice is the safe operation and handling of treatment plants and the OHS Act
is precise about the penalties that can be imposed for non-compliance," points
out du Plessis.
As stated in SANS 347, any person who contravenes or fails to comply
with any provision of regulations will be guilty of an offence and liable on
conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months. In
the case of a continuous offence, the person will be liable for an additional
fine of R200 for every day on which the offence continues, or to additional
imprisonment of one day for each day on which the offence continues provided
that the period of such additional imprisonment does not exceed 90 days.
To assist their customers with compliance, Lonza offers a pressure
certification consultation and support service. This is coordinated by their Sales
Engineer, Robert Fourie, who has an expert understanding of the SANS 347
specifications. These services are also not limited to Tanalith® C, Tanalith® E and Vacsol® Azure® treatment
Fourie advises that a site inspection starts the certification process.
"This is a requirement as the technical designs are then compiled based on the
current vessel build specifications and verified through various testing
procedures. The Certificate of Compliance is then issued to corroborate that
the designed build can safely operate at its intended operational pressure.
This is something I have had to raise a lot of awareness on as most users are
more focused on their boilers and are unaware of the fact that their pressure vessels
fall into this category too."
After recently managing the vessel certification process for BUCO's Tanalith® C treatment plant in
Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, BUCO Operations Manager, Ian Morgan- Smith, said:
"Having our entire vessel certification process carried out by Lonza has been a
pleasure. Their engineers have the technical expertise to get the job done. As a
corporate business, BUCO strives to be compliant in every aspect, especially
when it involves the health and safety of our staff. Lonza plays a very
important role in ensuring that we meet the required technical compliance as laid
out by SANS 347 and the health and safety standards. We are grateful to Lonza's
team for a very professional service".
Du Plessis concludes: "To ensure a healthy and safe work environment
across our industry, it is critical that every industry player meets the legal
specifications. The Lonza team is therefore committed to raising the awareness
and risks associated with non-compliance."