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SOP #: EHS-0082

Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0


Implementation Date 06/11/09

Page #: 1 of 9
SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

Pressure Vessels
1. Purpose / Background
This document describes the procedures the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
follows to ensure proper use and maintenance of pressure vessels. These procedures are
intended to support MIT’s Environment, Health & Safety Policy and comprise a portion of
the MIT Environment, Health, and Safety Management System (EHS-MS).

As defined under the EHS-MS PI Space Registration system, a pressure vessel is defined as
containing a volume more than 120 gallons of water under pressure, having internal or
external pressure in excess of 15 psi (pounds per square inch), and an inside diameter of more
than 6 inches.

Pressure vessels represent a risk for explosion and physical injury if not properly maintained.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) outlines construction specifications
for various types of pressure vessels.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety regulates the installation of boilers, air tanks,
and other pressure vessel installations. The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety
regulates air tanks with a capacity of one cubic foot or more (7.48 US gallons/28.3 liters) at a
pressure of 50 psi or greater.

2. Scope
This SOP describes requirements and practices for pre-fabricated, custom built, or “home-
crafted” pressure vessels that are installed and operated in laboratories and other spaces on
the MIT campus. Pressure vessels, as defined by this SOP include: a) boilers; b) air tanks; c)
vacuum systems and lines; d) refrigeration and air conditioning components (i.e.,
compressors); and e) autoclaves. Compressed gas cylinders are addressed in the SOP
Compressed Gases (EHS-001).

3. Prerequisites
None.

4. Management Standards
4.1. General Requirements
4.1.1 No person shall operate or use, or permit to be operated or used, an autoclave,
boiler or regulated pressure vessel unless it has been inspected by a qualified
inspector and a certificate of inspection has been issued, and the operator has
been trained and qualified. In addition to regulatory fines resulting from
unapproved installations, MIT’s Property Insurer may refuse to honor damage
claims resulting from inappropriately installed or operated pressure vessels.

An official hardcopy of this document exists in the EHS Office or on the EHS website.
See Legal Disclaimer at: http://web.mit.edu/environment/shared_content/disclaimer.html
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

4.1.2 Pressure vessel inspections for licensing purposes are to be inspected by


certified professionals per the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel
Inspectors. The Board maintains a list of agencies who may be commissioned
to perform boiler and pressure vessel inspections and employ individuals who
have been certified by the board.

4.1.3 MIT has approximately 60 pressure vessels, i.e., research pressure vessels,
which do not include boilers and pressure vessels for heating systems
maintained through the Department of Facilities. The EHS Office maintains a
list of research pressure vessels; MIT’s Property Insurer maintains a list of
boilers and heating systems which are inspected on a routine basis.

4.1.4 All pressure vessels shall be inspected for insurance and safety purposes after
installation, at prescribed frequencies, and after any welding, alterations,
repair or relocation. The pressure vessel inspection application may be
downloaded from:
http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/dps/appl/appl_eng_boiler_airtank_inspect
ion.pdf.

4.1.5 DLCs shall review design plans with the Safety Program within the
Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Office and the Department of Facilities
prior to building pressure vessels for a research project.

4.1.6 The owner of a new or existing pressure vessel is responsible for maintaining
the pressure vessel in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the
requirements of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public
Safety, which incorporates by reference the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel
Code. An unofficial copy of the regulations is available at:
http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/dps/inf/522_cmr_1.00_14.00_board_of_boil
er_rules.pdf. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code may be purchased
from: http://www.asme.org/Codes/International_Boiler_Pressure.cfm. The
sections pertaining to pressure vessels are: Section VIII, Division 1; Section
VIII, Division 2 (alternative standards for owner design-specification and
operated pressure vessels; and Section VIII, Division 3 (high pressure vessels
exceeding 10,000 psi).

4.1.7 Persons operating autoclaves and other pressure vessels shall be trained in
safe operating procedures, through Lab Specific Chemical Hygiene training or
similar methods.

4.1.8 All devices meeting the definition of “pressure vessel” identified above shall
be recorded in the PI Space Registration system. EHS Representatives are
responsible for entering information into the PI Space Registration system;
EHS Coordinators and EHS Lead Contacts help verify accuracy and assist EHS
Representatives as needed.
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

Page #: 3 of 9
SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

4.1.9 No person shall operate an autoclave, boiler or pressure vessel at a pressure


higher than its maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP).

4.1.10 Pressure vessels shall be rated to no less than 4 times the MAWP.

4.1.11 Pressure sources shall be limited to the MAWP of the lowest rated system
component by a regulator and relief device (valve or disk) downstream of the
regulator.

4.1.12 Every autoclave, boiler and pressure vessel shall have at least one safety or
other equivalent fitting to relieve pressure at or below the vessel’s maximum
allowable working pressure. No pressure vessel shall be operated without an
appropriate and properly functioning pressure gauge and safety relief.

4.1.13 The National Board of Boilers and Pressure Vessel Inspectors maintains an
online guide to pressure relief devices, which is updated monthly. The guide
may be downloaded from:
http://www.nationalboard.org/Index.aspx?pageID=8&ID=64.

4.1.14 Gauges shall be graduated to the MAWP (but preferable 20%-30% above
MAWP). Materials shall be compatible with the fluid.

4.1.15 The design function of any safety relief valve shall not be restricted by tie
downs, paint, block, cap, removal, or any other means.

4.1.16 Safety relief valves shall be tested monthly while pressure vessels are in
service. Where they exist, condensate valves shall be drained regularly, daily
if necessary.

4.1.17 Rupture disks, where used, shall be ASME approved. Beginning January 1,
1999, rupture disks approved by ASME are marked with the “UD stamp”.
Pressure vessels installed/constructed after January 1, 1999 that employ
rupture disks must bear this “UD” stamp.

4.1.18 Pressure control or any other switches which control pressure shall not be
bypassed.

4.1.19 Nonflexible metal pipe, tubing, fittings, and valves appropriate for the system
fluid and rated at or above the system MAWP shall be used. Special flexible
metal hose shall be used where flexing is required.

4.1.20 Autoclaves, boilers, and pressure vessels shall be maintained and repaired by
qualified persons. Departments, Labs, and Centers (DLCs) are responsible for
maintaining autoclaves and other pressure vessels.
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

4.1.21 Where, in the course of such maintenance and repairs, an employee is required
to enter a boiler or pressure vessel, the employee shall have received, and
comply with, Confined Space training. Refer to “Training” for additional
information.

4.1.22 Pressure vessels shall be kept mounted level at all times with vibration
protection in place. Do not mount the vessel rigidly without vibration buffer
supports under tank legs.

4.1.23 All components should be secured to a firm foundation; hose and tubing
should be firmly supported, with the end secured to prevent whipping in the
event a connection fails. Adequate machine screws or bolts should be used to
secure all components.

4.1.24 Pressure vessels shall be protected from damage caused by vehicle traffic or
general plant or lab operations. Materials, supplies, or other stock shall not be
piled up against the vessel.

4.1.25 All welded repairs shall be made only by companies holding the “R” stamp
authorization or the ASME “U” symbol; these are certificates that ASME issues
to the company. ASME grants the “R” certificate for repair or alteration of
equipment to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors
Code, and grants the “U” Certificate for Construction of Pressure Vessels to
the ASME Code. If a researcher in a DLC wishes to have a welded repair
performed on a pressure vessel, that individual shall request from the
company either a copy of the certificate or a certificate number.

4.1.26 The decommissioning of autoclaves, boilers and pressure vessels shall also be
reported to the EHS Office. Refer to the SOPs “Moving a Laboratory:
Preparation and Decontamination” (EHS-0026) and “Deactivating and
Decommissioning Equipment” (EHS-0049) for additional information.
Certificates must be turned in for pressure vessels that are no longer
operational.
4.2. Inspection Certificates – Process and Requirements
4.2.1 Inspection certificates issued by the Department of Public Safety shall be
posted in a conspicuous place near the autoclave, boiler, or pressure vessel.

4.2.2 With information from the EHS Representatives, the EHS Office shall
complete the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety’s Inspection
Application – Pressure Vessel Data. The inspection for new installations shall
be an internal and external exam of the system.

4.2.3 Re-inspections may be conducted by either a licensed inspector from the


Massachusetts Department of Public Safety or a licensed inspector from MIT’s
Property Insurance carrier.
4.2.4 Re-inspections shall be conducted every 2 years.
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

4.2.5 Copies of the application for inspection form may be downloaded from:
http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/dps/appl/appl_eng_boiler_airtank_inspect
ion.pdf.

4.2.6 The DLC shall provide the EHS Office with a $50.00 payment for each
pressure vessel to be inspected and licensed. The individual PI is responsible
for this payment.

4.2.7 The Safety Program shall notify the DLC when the Inspector has checked the
pressure vessel and has issued a certificate.

4.2.8 The DLC shall provide the Safety Program with a requisition for a plaque that
is embossed with the following information:
Certificate of Inspection is on file in the
Environment, Health, and Safety Office N52-496 tel: 452-3477
Dept: ___________________________

These plaques take the place of posting the renewed certificates of inspection
every two years. Copies of the certificates are available upon request.

If the pressure vessel is portable, EHS recommends chaining the plaque to the
equipment. The Department of Facilities stockroom (E19-111) sells 1/8 inch
and S hooks that fit the pre-drilled holes in the plaques.

If the pressure vessel is stationary, use the mounting squares to attach the
plaque to a nearby wall. EHS recommends also using wall screws if oil mist or
steam is present.

4.2.9 The DLC shall notify the Safety Program in the event the equipment is moved
to another lab. Space registration for the PI’s lab space shall be revised
accordingly.

4.2.10 The DLC shall notify the Safety Program when the equipment will be
disposed, in order to allow EHS to return the inspection certificate.
4.3. Air Tanks
4.3.1 Connecting to the building compressed air system is generally preferable to a
new air tank installation. DLCs shall contact the Department of Facilities
(HVAC Systems Team) regarding connecting to the building’s compressed air
system instead of buying a new air tank.

4.3.2 If connecting to the building air system is not possible and a new installation is
required, then the DLC must verify that the air tank/ pressure vessel is built to
ASME standards and has a code stamp on it.
4.3.3 The Massachusetts Code requires that owners install new air tanks with 12
inches between the tank and the floor, wall or other obstruction.
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

4.3.4 Locate the air tank so the condensate can be drained once a week or install an
automatic drain valve.

4.3.5 Locate the safety valve so it can be easily tested once a month.

4.3.6 Inspect the tank at least weekly for air leaks. If an air leak is found, determine
its source (i.e. line, fitting or crack).

4.3.7 Do not make welded repair on air tanks.

4.3.8 Do not use plastic pipe for any air discharge line.

4.3.9 When designing a compressed air system for a building/ large area, a second
air receiver for each system is needed to allow for uninterruptible service
during maintenance and inspections. The system valve arrangement shall be
in a manner that allows switching between air receivers.

5. Roles & Responsibilities


5.1. Principal Investigator/Pressure vessel operators shall:
5.1.1 Work with the Department’s EHS Coordinator, EHS Office, and the
Department of Facilities to ensure pressure vessel installations meet ASME
code, are properly permitted, and leverage existing building infrastructure
(e.g., building compressed air, central compressed gas distribution systems);

5.1.2 Operate systems in accordance with the criteria in Sections 4.1 and 4.3 of this
SOP;

5.1.3 Inspect safety and pressure relief systems at least monthly while the pressure
vessels are in service;

5.1.4 Where they exist, ensure that condensate lines are drained at least weekly;

5.1.5 Routinely inspect the system for signs of wear, and have the system repaired
by a licensed contractor if repairs are required;

5.1.6 Develop standard operating procedures for the pressure vessel, including
warning signs and emergency shutdown; and

5.1.7 Assist the EHS representative in communicating safe practices to those


working in the vicinity of the pressure vessel.

5.1.8 Provide the $50.00 inspection fee to MIT EHS/Inspector to accompany the
license application.
5.2. EHS representatives, as delegated by the Principal Investigators,
shall:
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

5.2.1 indicate whether pressure vessels are present in the PI Space Registration
system;

5.2.2 ensure that personnel working with pressure vessels have developed SOPs for
their safe operation;

5.2.3 include safety procedures for pressure vessels as part of annual laboratory
specific chemical hygiene training or hazard communication training; and

5.2.4 Work with the pressure vessel operator to ensure licenses, where they are
required, are obtained for pressure vessels. This includes making
arrangements to be present for bi-annual pressure vessel licensing inspections.
5.3. EHS Coordinators shall:
5.3.1 Ensure individuals who are performing work on/in pressure vessels
designated as confined spaces have received appropriate training;

5.3.2 Ensure PI spaces are accurately registered for the presence of pressure vessels;

5.3.3 Work with the EHS Office to coordinate the decommissioning of pressure
vessels;

5.3.4 ensure pressure vessel plaques and licenses are appropriately displayed; and

5.3.5 Assist the EHS Office with walkthroughs of spaces with pressure vessels for
insurance and/or state licensing purposes.
5.4. EHS Office shall:
5.4.1 Maintain a master list of licensed pressure vessels on campus and ensure
applications for inspection are submitted on the required 2-year cycle;

5.4.2 Work with EHS Coordinators to ensure that licenses for decommissioned
pressure vessels are turned in and the pressure vessel removed from PI Space
Registration and the Research Pressure Vessel master list;

5.4.3 Review pressure vessel design information with the operator, coordinate with
the Department of Facilities on EHS issues related to installation of pressure
vessels (e.g., toxic gas monitoring, fire protection need, etc.) along with any
supplemental EHS training that may be required (e.g., hydrofluoric acid
safety, confined space entry);

5.4.4 Ensure emergency response procedures for major/high hazard pressure vessel
installations have been developed and disseminated to emergency response
personnel and affected DLCs; and

5.4.5 Accompany insurance and state agency inspectors on walkthroughs of


campus spaces where pressure vessels are operated.
SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

5.4.6 Provide MIT’s Insurance Carrier with an updated list of research vessels to be
included as part of its boiler inspection master list.
5.5. Department of Facilities shall:
5.5.1 Ensure boiler installations have been installed per code and are operated by a
licensed professional; and

5.5.2 Provide guidance to DLCs on the availability of building air systems.

6. Training
6.1. Procedures for safe operation and emergency shutdown of pressure vessels shall be
included as part of annual laboratory-specific chemical hygiene training, or hazard
communication training for non-laboratory areas.
6.2. Individuals who may be required to perform maintenance, including clean-outs, of
pressure vessels could be subject to confined space training requirements.
Individuals working around a designated confines space can register for course
EHS0444c-A: Confined Space Awareness. Individuals who will be servicing confined
areas can register for course EHS0430c-A: Confined Space Entrant/Attendant.
Training registration is at http://web.mit.edu/sapwebss/PS1/training_home.shtml.

7. Monitoring Requirements
7.3. Tanks shall be drained of condensate at least weekly. If your tank creates large
amounts of condensate, contact Department of Facilities Mechanical Operations to
install an automatic drain valve.
7.4. Safety valves shall be tested monthly, and replaced when necessary. The Department
of Facilities stockroom (x3-4752) may be contacted to determine if the valve to be
replaced is in stock or to order one.
7.5. DLCs shall maintain logs of routine pressure vessel component testing and
maintenance/service activities.
8. Record Management
Inspection and training records shall be retained in accordance with the SOP Records
Retention, EHS Office (EHS-0021).

9. References
9.1. Standards
9.1.1. 522 CMR 100-17.00 – Massachusetts Division of Public Safety, Board of Boiler
Rules

9.1.2. ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code

9.1.3. OSHA 1910.169, “Air Receivers”


SOP #: EHS-xxxx
Environment, Health & Safety Office Revision # 0.0
Implementation Date 06/30/07

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SOP Author: Susan Leite, EHS Office Approval: EHS: Lou DiBerardinis,
Safety Program: Peter
Bochnak

9.2. Other SOP/ SOGs


9.2.1 Compressed Gases (EHS-001)

9.2.2 Deactivating and Decommissioning Equipment (EHS-0049)

9.2.3 Moving a Laboratory: Preparation and Decontamination (EHS-0026)

9.2.4 Records Retention, EHS Office (EHS-0021)


9.3. Supplementary Documents
9.3.1. MIT Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) plan

9.3.2. National Safety Council (NSC) Data Sheet: 1-678-Rev-85: Pressure Vessels and
Pressure Systems in the Research and Development Lab.

10. Definitions
10.1. ANSI – the American National Standards Institute. ANSI is a non-profit
organization that works with the public and private sector to develop
voluntary, uniform testing and performance requirements for materials,
products, and systems.
10.2. ASME – the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
10.3. autoclave - a sterilizer for liquids and materials that uses high pressure steam,
and designed to produce and withstand high pressures and high
temperatures. Sterilization is accomplished through timed exposure of liquids
or materials to high pressure and high temperatures such that all viable
microorganisms in the liquids/materials within the chamber are killed.
10.4. boiler - a fired vessel in which gas or vapor may be generated or a gas vapor
or liquid may be put under pressure by heating and includes any pipe, fitting
or other equipment attached to or used in connection with the vessel.
10.5. psi – pounds per square inch, a standard unit to measure pressure.
10.6. pressure - force applied to or distributed over a surface, measured above the
prevailing atmospheric pressure, e.g. kilopascals or pounds per square inch
(psi).
10.7. pressure vessel - an unfired vessel that may be used for containing, storing,
distributing, transferring, distilling, or processing any gas, vapor or liquid
under pressure, and includes any pipe, fitting and other equipment attached
to or used in connection with the vessel. Vessels containing a volume more
than 120 gallons of water under pressure, having internal or external pressure
in excess of 15 psi, and an inside diameter of more than 6 inches.
10.8. qualified person - a person who, in respect of a specified duty, is qualified by
knowledge, training and experienced to perform the duty safely and properly.