Carbon Steel Safety Alert

January 26, 2019
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Following investigations into an incident in the USE in 2010 where the shell of a heat exchanger ruptured catastrophically, killing seven workers, the HSE have issued a safety alert aimed at the chemical processing and production and general manufacturing sectors.

The safety alert concerns the use of carbon steel in applications involving hydrogen (as either a gas or a liquid, including where it is a constituent part of a fluid), and the effect of High Temperature Hydrogen Attack.

It has long been known that at high temperatures and pressures hydrogen can cause cracking in carbon steel and carbon steel alloys. Guidance has previously been developed which describes limit conditions for different grades of carbon and alloy steel, above which exposure will lead to adverse effects on the structure. However the investigators into the American incident were of the opinion that the heat exchanger was operating significantly below the relevant limit applicable at the time.

The HSE carried out further research into the issue and the safety alert gives guidance for operators of equipment susceptible to High Temperature Hydrogen Attack.

The safety alert and full details of the guidance can be found on the HSE’s website at: