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Safe operating procedures when troubleshooting high pressure equipment

A employee when troubleshooting a clogged HPLC had unplugged it at various points to relieve pressure. The heat ex-changer outlet had been unscrewed for a few seconds when the blockage dislodged and the pressurized liquid shot into the employee's face. The employee was wearing all PPE but some liquid dripped into the employee's eyes. The employee rinsed eyes in the eyewash station and proceeded to employee health services for immediate first aid. Two days later the employee’s symptoms worsened and required treatment beyond first aid.

1.    Is there a standard procedure for troubleshooting equipment for common malfunctions?

2.    Is the PPE used sufficient for the hazards in the area?

3.    Before performing any troubleshooting of equipment ensure that pressure drops to an acceptable level before unscrewing the valves.

4.    Turn the pumps off between valve checks and try to maintain a barrier between the equipment and self in case there is an unexpected release of the liquid.

5.    When performing work in dusty conditions or areas where chemicals are present it is recommended to not wear contact lenses because the debris may get trapped between the contact lense and eye creating further damage to the eye. 

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