Safety aspects of installation of removable and reusable insulation covers
Installation of removable and reusable insulation covers is not a rocket science. However, as with all works on construction sites or on operating plants you should plan them accordingly and manage in a safe way. Health and safety requirements for installation of insulation mattress may vary depending on local rules. Sometimes customer and operator have some additional internal safety policies. Some plants or countries may be stricter than the others. Nevertheless, the common sense and risk aversion is often the same in different countries. As removable insulation covers supplier we install our flexible insulation jackets around the world. We also assist our customers with planning of installation activities and suitable risk assessment. Very often it may not be necessary as the client already has his own procedures. In such occasions, we go through the induction and safety briefing. This way we can familiarise ourselves with the risks and safe method of work.
Check our tips and recommendations for safety aspects of installation of removable and reusable insulation jackets.
When you install removable insulation jackets always plan your activities properly
Safety starts with design
Before you start any on site activities you should make sure that the design of removable insulation covers will allow for safe installation. This may include checking that elements are not too heavy for the installation team. Sometimes insulation mattresses are large in surface and consist of several parts. Due to safe handling reasons site operatives join these parts with straps or wires. It is easier and safer to handle more smaller pieces of removable insulation covers than one large and heavy item.
Check the site and customer requirements for installation of removable and reusable insulation covers
Parallel to the design phase, you should get familiar with the site and customer rules. You can do it by going through Health and Safety documentation. Also, you can arrange safety meeting directly with health and safety manager. The documentation should include Health and Safety Plan, Construction Phase Plan, Method Statements and task briefings. If your customer asks you to prepare your own safe system of work, ask for some templates. This will help you avoid rewriting processes. Prepare a draft version first before you submit your task briefing for installation of flexible insulation covers.
What should you look for in these documents before you start installation of removable and reusable insulation jackets? Below are some of the items which will help you gain more knowledge about safety aspects of your work.
- Any description of health and safety qualifications
- information about your trade qualifications
- safety training qualifications for supervisors and managers
- details on how to manage, store, handle and dispose COSHH
- specialist tools training requirements
- permit to work needs
Analyse and consult safety requirements for installation of reusable insulation covers
Once you checked the overall safety requirements it is time to plan your works. Have you received adequate training for your work? If your answer is no, than you or your safety adviser should organise suitable training. There are different schemes for different types of work. Even though it is a standard in the UK to have CSCS card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) it may not be enough for your work. For some sites you may need specific CSCS card type for your trade.
Sometimes you may need to go through Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) safety passport training scheme. Other countries, like Germany or Austria respect Personal Safety Pass – SCC. Whereas in the Netherlands you will need VCA (Safety, Health and Environment Checklist for Contractors).
Make sure that you organise the training for installation of insulation mattresses with sufficient lead time
Sometimes, it may take long time to get the training and additional periods before you receive your cards and certificates.
When you finalise your safe system of work you need to brief your team. It it necessary to make sure everyone involved in the installation of removable insulation covers understands the tasks and how to eliminate risks.
Please do not forget that you have to also prepare COSHH assessment before bringing substances hazardous to health on site. These may include man made fibres like mineral wool, textile fabric with coatings, welding rods or any adhesives. If you do not have a template for such assessment ask the client or refer to the HSE knowledge centre. You should also check material safety data sheets to obtain necessary safety information. For such document, see the example below.
Even though mineral fibres are enclosed in the insulation textile cover there might a small chance that the cover gets damaged and fibres will be released in the air. Therefore, COSHH assessment will assist your installation team with instructions how to proceed in such an event.
Which tools and equipment do you need to carry out the works in a safe manner?
The overall list could look like to one below:
- fabricating equipment – sewing machines
- Cordless battery hand tools drill
- Cargo nets for vertical transport
- Stud Welding Machine with consumables and welder’s protective equipment – for installation of support pins if your design requires them
- leads and distribution boxes for electrical equipment
- charges for the cordless equipment
- Hand tools – shears, tin snips, hammer, vice clamps, rivet guns, lagging knife, permanent markers,
- Angle grinders
- scaffold hoist
- MEWP (scissor lifts & cherry pickers)
- Spanners or cargo straps
- Telehandler, mobile crane, tower crane
- Podium steps
You can install most of the removable and reusable insulation covers manually. Very often there is no need for extra tools or equipment. However, there might be some areas with more difficult access. There, you should consider if you can use temporary access or mechanical ways. It all depends on the overall site progress and work areas. Usually, you will be working off the permanent platforms. But in some cases you will need other means of access. These may include scaffolds, podium steps, mobile elevated working platforms, ramps, cranes or other plant and equipment.
Before you jump in to such equipment, make sure it is safe to use it. How can you check it? You can make sure that trained scaffolders built the scaffold and that mobile plant went through the regular inspections. Also, if you use any plant you need to be competent and have valid ticket to operate it.
Distribution of removable and reusable insulation covers is part of the risk assessment
Various work sites dictate own and specific logistic constraints. You will need different methods of distribution of removable and reusable insulation covers for power plants, petrochemical plants or for tunnel works. How do you intend to transport material to site is one thing. Another aspect of logistics is how you handle insulation covers on site. Power plants consists of plenty of levels as oppose to petrochemical plants which are vast in surface. Both types of work environments have specific requirements that you have to consider. If you want to distribute materials between levels at various heights it may be worth to use material hoists, scaffold hoists or cranes. When it comes to horizontal distribution, like in tunnels, pallet trucks or electric trolleys will be your choice for handling materials.
It also matters how the material is packed. It is one thing to handle a single removable insulation cover and it is a different risk to manage the full pallet of insulation blankets.
Sewing machines can also be used for local adjustments and modifications
When we take on the order we always try to fabricate all removable and reusable insulation covers in our factory. However, sometimes with very complicated pieces for insulation, for example turbines, we need to do some minor modifications on site. These adjustment may require using sewing machines. When you use it on site make sure you consult it with the health and safety management. It is not practical and sometimes unsafe to use personal protective equipment like safety helmets or safety gloves when sewing. Therefore, you can, for example, position sewing machine in a sea container. Another solution would be to agree with the client an exclusion zone or a separate room where your team does this type of work.
Welding machines use in installation of removable insulation blankets
As already mentioned in the above paragraph, for some complicated items for insulation we may need additional machines. Before we insulate gas or steam turbines with removable insulation mats we need to install fixing pins. In order to fix these pins in efficient way we use a stud welding machine.
What are overall safety aspects of using stud welding machines? First of all the personnel operating this equipment has to be properly qualified. Some clients asked us for on site skills tests as well. Secondly, we ensure that the equipment we use is in safe condition. That is why we prefer to hire this equipment as the hiring supplier carries out necessary maintenance checks on regular basis.
Some stud welding machines require three phase electrical connection. Therefore, it is important to check for such provisions on site. From safety perspective it is also crucial to make sure that hot works permit is in place. Usually the permit officer issues them on daily basis. Hot works permit included details of the hot works and references to safety precautions. As minimum you would normally need to provide fire extinguishers, welding blankets and welding screens for areas where you use stud welding machine. We would also recommend using suitable PPE for the welder. This may be welding goggles, fire retardant jacket and welding gloves.
Supervisor responsibilities during installation of removable and reusable insulation covers
Supervisor’s role is to monitor the installation of flexible insulation covers on a daily basis. Whether these are valve insulation jackets or acoustic insulation pads for suspended ceilings, there is always specific risk assessment to be done. This means looking after safety aspects as well. Supervisor should carry out point of work risk assessment and check if the work area is safe for work. Additionally, it is supervisors task to make sure the site operatives have suitable tools and equipment for installation of removable insulation jackets.
What is more, supervisor should be the first line of contact between the installation team and management. That role also requires to monitor if workers are following safety procedures.
As with all construction and maintenance works also installation of removable insulation has to be planned carefully. There are several factors that you need to consider before deciding on specific methodology. Qualifications, skills and training are just a few components of how you can minimise the risks during such works on site. However, with considerate planning all works can be done safely with the satisfaction of your operatives and clients.