Pressure Treatment Vessels: The Risk of Opinion-Based Compliance
Treating timber by-way-of opinion-based decision making rather than in accordance with the law will lead to the use of unsafe and non-compliant pressure treatment vessels – which puts not only your treatment plant at risk, but also the reputation of the industry.
Arijit Chandra – who is a
professionally registered Mechanical Engineer and a member of the PER Technical
Committee in South Africa, weighs in on the subject.
“Ignorance of the law is not
an excuse. The Pressure Equipment Regulations
were promulgated over 10 years ago, in October 2009, and not abiding by them
will lead to fines or being shut down should an inspector from the Department
of Labour find you guilty of non-compliance. You have to get yourself fully
compliant,” says Chandra.
He adds that without strict
compliance to the PER governing the manufacture and operation of pressure
vessels, it is impossible to ensure the health and safety of individuals
employed in the industry. “This is the reason why the regulations are so
important and why they have been mandated by the Occupational Health and Safety
Act,” emphasizes Chandra.
The design and certification
of CCA pressure treatment vessels in South Africa is governed by the PER, the
OHS Act and SANS 347. While some may disagree on this classification, Chandra
states that the regulations are clear on the matter and that it is not for
“Everything is based on the
categories of the pressure equipment that is being manufactured. The different
categories of assessment within the PER are dependent on the type of pressure
equipment, its design, pressure state of the fluid inside and the fluid group.
“Pressure equipment starts
with a SEP (sound engineering practice) and then goes to category 1, 2, 3 and
4. Category 1 is the lowest level of intervention and requires no third-party
involvement, except for pressure vessels manufactured to RSA/CI/OHSA, which
will then require AIA involvement. The SANS 347 standard will determine the
category and the equipment then needs to be manufactured as per the requirement
set out by this standard. CCA pressure treatment vessels use the chemical
pesticide chromate-copper-arsenate and therefore fall under the category
‘filled with a hazardous fluid or hot water mixed with a chemical,” explains
To sell any pressure vessel
(including Category 01 to 4) on the South African market, manufacturers must
follow the steps below to ensure compliance.
- The pressure
vessel must be designed to an acceptable health and safety standard
incorporated in the government gazette R262 of 24March 2017.
- The design must be
signed off by a professional engineer.
- The design must be
submitted to the Inspection Authority for design verification.
- The manufacturer must
follow all steps as required by SANS 347 to ensure compliance, under the supervision
of the AIA.
- The AIA must
counter-sign the manufacturer’s certificate.
- The name plate
must be stamped by the AIA (manufacturing) to meet the requirements of Regulation
9.2 of the PER.
Anyone purchasing a pressure
treatment vessel must ensure that after installation, a pre-commissioning
inspection is carried out by an approved inspection authority who will issue a
pre-commissioning inspection certificate. Thereafter, every 36-months, the
vessel must undergo an
inspection by an in-service approved inspection authority. Furthermore, the maintenance of existing
pressure vessels, which was regulated under previous regulations, requires full
AIA involvement during repairs or modifications.
Sales Engineer at Lonza Wood Protection, Robert Fourie, emphasizes the importance of compliance when performing repairs and modifications: “CCA pressure vessels that are manufactured to a specific standard have to modified or repaired by a manufacturer whose welders are certified within that standard. Users must ensure that the pressure equipment has documentation certifying that modifications and /or repairs have been carried out in accordance with the relevant health and safety standard. This documentation must be issued by the repairer or modifier and must include a verification signature by an approved inspection authority when required.”
Senior Business Manager at
Lonza Wood Protection, JJ du Plessis, concludes: “We should never become
complacent about the health and safety risks associated with using non-compliant
pressure vessels when treating wood. The legislation that is in
place provides fundamental safeguards
and best safety practice to maintain the good reputation of our industry and
should therefore be fully adhered to. If you are unsure whether your CCA pressure
treatment vessel is compliant, it would be in your best interests to seek
advice from the AIA or contact Lonza to guide you through the process and place
you in contact with the correct professional vessel inspection authority.”