In their ongoing efforts to improve work safety, BUCHEN KraftwerkService GmbH recently launched a number of product innovations onto the market that will – above all – make boiler work considerably safer. RWE has already commended the company for “further developing health and safety”.
The risk of a work accident is considerably higher when blast cleaning work has to be carried out in storage vessels or narrow spaces: hose lines, fixtures, ropes and cables are all potential tripping hazards, insufficient lighting or sudden blackouts, extreme climatic conditions, noise ... the list of hazards is long. Which is why the rules drawn up by the DGUV [German Social Accident Insurance] explicitly stipulate that an additional person must be present and must be in constant contact with the operatives working in the vessel, silo or narrow space so that they can help or call for help in the case of an emergency.
Up to now, however, it has proven to be extremely difficult – or even practically impossible – to find a radio communications system that works well enough for operatives to remain in constant contact with the person outside whilst carrying out blast cleaning work in vessels or narrow spaces. The operative and boiler operator generally communicate using Morse code via the so-called “dead man’s switch”.
The incredibly high noise levels generated by blasting work (in some cases more than 120dB) mean that the operatives need really efficient ear protectors
Born out of necessity: the dead man’s switch seen here – designed as a piece of safety equipment – is often also used to communicate with those outside.
The solutions currently available on the market are suitable for stationary cubicles used to blast clean equipment and, to a certain extent, for blast cleaning work carried out in the open. Things become a lot more difficult, however, when the work needs to be done inside a boiler, e.g. on the refractory concrete. Boilers act like a Faraday cage so the signal must be extremely strong to penetrate the walls. What’s more, the incredibly high noise levels generated by blasting work (in some cases more than 120dB) mean that the operatives need really efficient ear protectors. At the same time, the communication system’s two-way headset must also work perfectly.
Having carried out both extensive product research work and product trials, BUCHEN’s specialists have succeeded in developing their own set of patent-protected equipment that meets absolutely all these requirements: a combination of a high-performance radio device, PPE-compatible switches, blasting helmets with an integrated headset and a special protective pouch. This system means that rapid radio contact can be set up between those in and outside the boiler (via a frequency agreed on with the ‘BNetzA’ [Federal Network Agency]) even when the levels of noise are extremely high. RWE has already officially commended the company on developing this innovative radio communications concept. BUCHEN’s engineers are currently looking into where else this innovative system could be used.
There is also huge potential for another BUCHEN innovation, which is already protected as a utility model and is currently undergoing tests to receive CE accreditation: a handheld, LED-operated boiler lamp. Special lamps that are used as safety equipment or for emergency lighting and that have not been designed for general lighting use are exempt from the ban on incandescent and halogen light bulbs. Such lamps include, for example, handheld industrial lamps such as those used when working on boilers. Despite this exemption, however, the BUCHEN engineers believed there was still room for improvement as the bulbs often have to be changed as they are neither impact nor shock-proof. This costs both time and money and – above all – creates dangerous situations if the light suddenly goes out and the person in the boiler finds themselves in the dark.
Thanks to the engineers developing an industrial LED handheld lamp, the lifespan of the bulb is much longer than that of conventional bulbs. Long-term tests have shown that the lifespan has been increased from an average 20 hours to up to 90 days. What’s more they are also much brighter, increasing the amount of light from an average 870 lumen to an average 1,350 lumen – a rise of almost 59 percent. To sum up: the new LED handheld lamps clearly increase work efficiency levels and cut costs. Two good reasons why BUCHEN is already working on other types of lamps for use in a whole range of other areas.
With the level of brightness increasing by almost 59% and the bulbs lasting up to 90 days, work efficiency levels are higher and costs considerably lower
EVONIK’s Lülsdorf branch has presented BUCHEN UmweltService GmbH with its 2016 Partner Award in recognition of its excellent safety standards. 1st place was given to the company’s team of employees who had demonstrated exemplary levels of workplace safety whilst carrying out their day-to-day work. The Partner Award trophy and certificate were handed over to BUCHEN’s very proud team during a special ceremony held at the beginning of the year.
A number of EVONIK employees (work safety and plant security staff, plant and departmental managers, day shift foremen and contractor coordinators) had observed and evaluated the work performed by the partner firms at the site over a twelve-month period. BUCHEN is responsible for the complex high pressure industrial jet cleaning work needed at the Lülsdorf plant (e.g. for their storage vessels, heat exchangers, pipes etc) as well as for the cleaning and CCTV inspection of the plant’s wastewater network.