Working safely with boilers and other pressure equipment

Boilers and other pressure equipment can be hazardous, particularly those used in industrial settings. Approved maintenance contractors should be used to deal with high-powered pressure equipment to manage these particular hazards.

Boilers use heat and water to produce steam. Other pressure equipment may be used in conjunction with a boiler, or separately. We have produced guidance for all operators, designers, manufacturers and suppliers of pressure equipment.

While this guidance has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe.

Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

Approved code of practice of the design, safe operation, maintenance and servicing of boilers

Lays out the minimum requirements for these activities. It applies to the safety features and controls of all commercial or industrial boilers.

Download full PDF – Boilers – Approved Code of Practice [354 KB]

Approved code of practice for pressure equipment (excluding boilers)

Applies to all pressure equipment except boilers and hot water boilers. This includes machinery like steam turbines and pressure piping.

Download full PDF - Pressure Equipment – Approved Code of Practice [371 KB]

Note: Change to section 5.4.4(1)

A small but significant discrepancy between this approved code of practice and AS/NZS 1200:2000 (Pressure Equipment) has come to our attention. It affects the method of assessing the need for design and design verification of pressure vessels for seismic conditions.

The first paragraph of Appendix I in AS/NZS 1200:2000 Pressure equipment reads (emphasis added):

“1 SEISMIC LOADINGS All pressure equipment with a service weight exceeding one tonne, or where the height of the centre of gravity under service conditions exceeds one metre above the lowest part of that item of pressure equipment, or the lowest part of any permanently attached supports, shall be designed and design verified for seismic conditions.”

The approved code of practice states in 5.4.4(1) (emphasis added):

“5.4.4 Seismic design

(1) Pressure vessels which have a service weight exceeding 1 tonne and a centre of gravity under service conditions higher than 1 metre above the lowest part of the pressure vessel or its permanently attached supports shall comply with 5.4.4.”

The code of practice also refers to AS/NZS 1200 without qualification in other places such as 3.4.2, 5.4.1, C1, and C2. It was noted that this one and only interpretation of the weight/height criteria differing from the standard in its use of ‘and/or’ related specifically to pressure vessels as opposed to pressure equipment generally.

We have reviewed the code and consider that the inclusion of the word ‘and’ in 5.4.4(1) of the code was an error and not the result of an intentional departure from the standard. We advise that the word ‘or’ should have been used instead of the word ‘and’ in 5.4.4(1) of the code. This error does not diminish general in service safety, but could contribute to a failure in an area subject to an earthquake.

This is particularly relevant in installations where there are larger pressure vessels which were produced after June 2001 (publication date of the code of practice) and many vessels will not be affected by this correction due to their size or age. Of those which are potentially affected, probably those of overseas origin will be most susceptible to rework or other remedial action.

We advise that 5.4.4(1) should be taken to read as follows:

“5.4.4 Seismic design

(1) Pressure vessels which have a service weight exceeding 1 tonne or a centre of gravity under service conditions higher than 1 metre above the lowest part of the pressure vessel or its permanently attached supports shall comply with 5.4.4.