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Line breaking: ensuring best-practice

03 June 2017

Cleaning, repair and maintenance of industrial systems can cause damage to pipework. Compliance with a line breaking policy is essential to reduce the potential dangers. 

Process pipework can be broken or damaged during maintenance, cleaning and repair work, so compliance with a line breaking policy is critical for anyone working in a factory environment. People working in these environments should be fully trained in the safe methods of breaking lines and should be aware of the importance of processing and complying with a line breaking policy or permit, as well as the proper procedures to follow (as described in HSG253, Health & Safety Executive Guidance Note: 2006) both before and after line breaking.

It is important too that operators, supervisors and maintenance technicians are able to identify the dangers of industrial fluids within their plant, as well as the direction of fluid flows in pipework. Knowing which tools to use and what type of personal protective equipment to wear for safe line breaking is also important.

Recognising the importance of such training for its staff, cereal manufacturer Kelloggs UK, has introduced a training programme at its production plant in Manchester, which produces over one million packs of corn, rice and wheat-based cereals each day.

Peter Carey, Training Manager at Kelloggs UK Manchester, is responsible for training of the factory’s 412 employees. He has been working with Technical Training Solutions (TTS) for the last 10 years, helping to develop specific tailored training courses for Kelloggs’ employees. “TTS has provided a variety of training courses for our engineering, operations and maintenance teams, including courses on mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, 17th Edition wiring regulations, five-day passport electrical safety training, and line breaking,” he said.

The collaboration began when the factory had a specific need for a safe line breaking training course. “The factory is full of pipework systems that transport steam, compressed air and hot process materials such as syrup around the plant. To comply with safety legislation and to reduce the risk of injury when cleaning, repairing or maintaining pipework, we decided to look for a suitable line breaking training course,” said Carey. This proved to be much more difficult than he expected.

Initially TTS did not have a specific training course for line breaking but Carey asked if one could be developed. “We did some training requirements analysis to see what we needed in terms of training. TTS used this information to develop a course from scratch that precisely met our needs,” he said.

David Larner, director at TTS takes up the story: “We developed a practical course with several training rigs that simulate real industrial pipework. Candidates can practice each of the skills that the course provides on these training rigs, as well as perform the key ones for the purpose of the practical assessment. This practical aspect of the course is fundamental in our training ethos of Learning by Doing.”

For example, the importance of using the correct tools is demonstrated in a torque exercise where the effects of uneven tightness on flange joints are examined and candidates compare the results of using combination spanners, adjustable wrenches and torque wrenches.

Training in action
“Over the last eight years, more than 100 of our staff have attended the line breaking training and the feedback has been excellent. Candidates enjoy the mix of theoretical and practical assessments, particularly the training simulation rigs, as they can go onto the factory floor afterwards and put what they’ve learned into practice by doing risk assessments on pipework.”

The course includes a review of the health and safety issues concerned with line breaking, with a particular emphasis on fluids and gasses used in the production environment. It includes discussion about pipework identification and marking schemes, isolation codes of practice in use at the plant, and how these compare to the latest Health & Safety codes of practice (HSG253). 

Stressing the importance of best practice and planning of pipework isolations, various isolation rigs are also used for candidates to practice writing method statements for line breaking at various points on the rigs. Following this exercise, the candidates swap method statements with other groups and implement these to see if there have been any safety breaches. Padlocks, paperwork and testing are required to demonstrate best practice.

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