Steam Pipe Safety

SKU: C-521Duration: 31 Minutes Certificate Included

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Course Details


Training Time: 31 minutes

Compatibility: Desktop, Tablet, Phone

Based on: Industry Standards and Best Practices

Languages: English

Steam is used around the world in many different ways. In industrial environments, it is commonly used for power generation and in heating and drying applications. When used properly, steam is one of the cleanest, most efficient, and safest forms of energy in use. However, employees should be prepared and aware of the hazards present when working around steam pipes in order to avoid accidents and injuries. This course describes the hazards presented by steam pipes, how to prevent them, as well as how to properly inspect, insulate, and label steam pipes.

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Describe how steam is created
  • Describe hazards presented by hot steam pipes and associated equipment
  • Identify how to inspect steam pipes, steam condensate pipes, steam vent pipes, lagging and valves
  • Describe steam pipe and valve insulation
  • Describe steam pipe labeling
  • Identify proper lockout/tagout procedures when working around steam pipes
  • Describe proper personal protective equipment
  • List steps in responding to medical emergencies

The following key questions are answered in this module:

How is steam created?
Steam is created when heat energy is added to liquid water, increasing the temperature to its boiling point. Once water has reached its boiling point, the temperature stops increasing, and that heat energy is now going towards creating vapor or "steam" rather than increasing the water's temperature.

What are some safety guidelines to help prevent accidents?
Some safety guidelines that should be considered are: cleaning up wet floors immediately after a leak, or if a steam pipe is drained for maintenance, keep work areas clear of unneeded materials and equipment, avoid contact with steam, watch your head in areas with low headroom or projections, ventilate all spaces where work is taking place, and clean steam pipes regularly and keep them free from oil or grease.

Why and how should steam pipes be insulated?
Steam lines should be guarded and provide proper insulation to protect individuals from high temperatures as well as keep the system from losing heat. Steam lines should be insulated so that their temperature is less than the temperature which would result in a skin burn if touched. This is typically higher than 49 °C (120 °F), depending upon the length of contact.

What is water hammer?
"Water hammer" is the unexpected release of high pressure condensate that is then carried at high speeds in a steam pipe until it collides against a valve, or other component. When it impacts the inside of steam pipes, it causes a loud banging noise.

What are some common personal protective equipment that all personnel working near steam pipes should wear?
Personnel working near steam pipes should wear what's required of them, which may include but isn't limited to: coveralls (with heavily protected fabric, nonslip safety shoes with a hard toe cap, hearing protection, a face visor, impact- and chemical-resistant goggles, insulated leather gloves, and a respiratory device.

Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:

Steam pipes are labeled to identify their contents, as well as detail any specific hazards that exist. These specific hazards could include very hot temperatures or high pressures. If a pipe reads, "Steam 1.03 Bar" or "15 PSIG", this specifies that the pipe contains steam at a pressure of 1.03 bar or 15 PSIG. Remember that any steam pipe over 1.03 bar or 15 PSIG, is classified as high pressure. An arrow is also typically shown along with the text label to show the direction that the steam flows. If steam could be flowing in either direction, arrows in both directions are displayed. Labels are positioned on the lower side of a pipe if the pipe is above eye level, directly facing you if the pipe is at eye level, or on the upper side of the pipe if the pipe is below eye level. Labels are normally located near valves, directional changes, or entry points, and evenly spaced on straight segments.

Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:

  • U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) –
  • OSHA grants -
  • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) –
  • American National Standards Institute -

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