Gas and pressurised equipment

At Umeå University, we use gas and pressurised equipment such as gas cylinders and fire extinguishers. If used incorrectly, pressurised equipment may pose a risk. If a pressurised equipment is used incorrectly or in a poor condition, e.g. cracks appearing, the entire equipment must be discarded.

Legislation

The Swedish Work Environment Authority has produced a new regulation on the use and control of pressurised equipment. The new regulation incorporates several requirements that were previously spread across a number of regulations. The new Regulation on the Use and Control of Pressurised Equipment (AFS 2017:3) came into effect on 1 December 2017.

In addition, the following Regulatory Amendments apply:

  • AFS 2017:4 Amendment Regulations on Chemical Occupational Safety and Health Risks (AFS 2011:19)
  • AFS 2017:5 Amendment Regulations on Gases (AFS 1997:7).

As to manufacturing, construction and testing, the following regulations continue to apply:

  • Pressure Equipment AFS 2016:1
  • Simple pressure vessels AFS 2016:2
  • Overpressure and suppression testing AFS 2006:8
  • Work Environment Act, Chapter 3, Section 8.

Employer's responsibilities

Since pressurised equipment usually pose a certain amount of risk, it is your responsibility as employer to appoint fully qualified persons to perform all necessary equipment checks, repairs, modifications, service, cleaning and maintenance.

According to the Swedish Work Environment Authority's Regulations (AFS 2001:1) on Systematic Work Environment Management (AFS 2001:1), it is the employer's responsibility to regularly monitor the working environment and perform risk analyses. The same Regulations on Systematic Work Environment Management include rules on risk prevention measures.

All pressurised equipment and accompanying safety appliances must be regularly inspected and monitored. It is the responsibility of the employer to appoint members of staff to continuously monitor and regularly inspect all pressurised equipment and accompanying safety appliances.

Pressurised equipment must never be used at a higher or lower pressure and/or temperature for which it was intended by the manufacturer or accredited body.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all signs and information relating to pressurised equipment are kept up to date. Pressurised equipment must never be used at a higher or lower pressure and/or temperature for which it was intended by the manufacturer or accredited body.

It is your responsibility as an employer to document the certification received from the accredited body inspecting the equipment. 

A serious accident or incident, i.e. something that could have become serious, must be reported to the Swedish Work Environment Authority without delay. As an employer, you are also responsible for documenting and investigating any accidents and incidents arising from the use of pressurised equipment. All measures recommended as a result of an investigation must be implemented without delay. Operation shall not resume until it has been established that the equipment is safe.

Liquid nitrogen

Only thermos flasks, vessels, pipes, etc., intended for the safe handling/transporting of liquid nitrogen should be used. These must be fully operational and functional.

Sealed cryogenic vessels must be fully insulated to avoid becoming covered with frost. Sealed cryogenic vessels must be fitted with at least one pressure relief valve. Sealed vessels must be regularly checked as follows:
(a) According to 6.2.1.6.3, pressure relief valves must not be inspected less often than every five years.
(b) According to 6.2.3.5.2, non-UN approved sealed cryogenic vessels must not be inspected less often than every 10 years.

Open cryogenic vessels must only be used for the following non-oxidising refrigerated liquefied gases assigned Classification Code 3A: UN 1913, 1951, 1963, 1970, 1977, 2591, 3136 and 3158. Open cryogenic vessels must be manufactured in compliance with applicable regulations.

For internal transportation of vessels containing liquid nitrogen, a cart or special trolley must be used and extra care be taken or safety straps used to prevent the vessel from tipping over. The operation of the trolley/cart and its wheels should be inspected and checked on a regular basis. A risk assessment should be performed for the purpose of identifying what personal protective equipment will be required during the internal transport, refilling and handling of liquid nitrogen.

Click here to learn more about the Safety Procedures for Handling Liquid Nitrogen.

Autoclaves and reactors

Autoclave is a type of pressure cooker for sterilising of chemicals, plastics, textiles, glass and metal goods. A Maintenance Officer shall be appointed for the task of maintaining, inspecting and testing the equipment in line with the manufacturer's advice and instructions.

An autoclave is a pressurised equipment subject to the Swedish Work Environment Authority's Regulations on the Use and Control of Pressurised Equipment (AFS 2017:3) and Regulatory Amendments to AFS 2017:3 (AFS 2019:1). In addition, AFS 2017:3 sets out what fines may be imposed if an employer violates these regulations.

Each institution shall draw up a list of the pressurised equipment it uses. Based on chamber size and fuse pressure, autoclaves are classified as A and B. Small tabletop autoclaves are not always classified but these are rarely used by the University.

Consideration should also be given to the autoclave steam generator. Autoclave steam generators in excess of 5 kW and with a throughput of more than 25 litres are classified as boilers. Additional requirements then apply in accordance with AFS 2017:3. Please note that Class A or B autoclaves must be inspected by a fully qualified third-party inspector before taken into use for the first time following installation and periodically thereafter as recommended.

According to AFS 2017:3, each autoclave shall include documentation with the following information:

  • CE Certification for autoclaves, steam generators and the composition of these.
  • Theoretical longevity and lifespan journal.
  • Instructions on how to carry out safety equipment tests and how often.
  • Operating instructions including advice on daily and periodic maintenance as well as safe handling.
  • Measures to be taken if the safety function stops the operating cycle or any other unexpected event occurs.
  • Risk assessment of the management of the autoclave process including, among others, how to fulfil the requirement of AFS 2017:3 as regards the monitoring of autoclaves and boilers.

Only members of staff trained in operating Class A or B autoclaves may be authorised to do so. A list of staff members trained and authorised to operate Class A or B autoclaves should be available at the department.

Completed operating cycles, daily inspections, maintenance and service should be recorded and signed off by the Maintenance Officer responsible. The Autoclaving Facilities Manager must be present, the details of whom shall be provided on the door of the Autoclaving Facilities room.

According to AFS 2017:3, reactors used in laboratory work are classed as pressurised equipment. Whether a reactor is classified A, B or has no classification depends on its volume and maximum pressure.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Richard Olsson
Property and facilities director
+46 90 786 67 28
richard.olsson@umu.se

Frida Fjellström
9/30/2021