Experts agree that some steam boilers are safer than others – not based on physics but on physical design. But what does safe mean? For at least one professional, staying safe equates to working in an environment that minimizes the potential for personal injury, disability, downtime, productivity shortfalls and worker’s compensation claims.

“Catastrophic explosions are extremely rare,” said Jim Manthei of AMS Steam, who has been specifying and installing steam boilers for almost 40 years. “While physics may suggest which type of boilers are safer in this respect, day-to-day safety concerns like burns, bumps and bruises and the range of injuries that can result from installation, operation and routine maintenance are issues that people who work with and around steam boilers need to address on a regular basis.”

These everyday matters are less about physics and more about how a boiler is designed and engineered, including size and weight factors, ease-of-maintenance, accessibility to gauges and other issues that may increase the potential for injury.

Take, for example Miura’s watertube boilers. Their physical design and engineering offer a number of safety and efficiency advantages over traditional firetube boilers, including:

  •          Heavy-duty, threaded plugs instead of hand holes that reduces the potential for steam leaks and subsequent severe burns.
  •          No sight glass, which reduces the potential for cuts and burns in the instance that the glass fails or breaks.
  •          No confined-space entry requirements.
  •          Easier check out and testing.
  •          Full steam in 5 minutes.

With more than 140,000 units in operation, Miura’s watertube boilers have experienced zero catastrophic vessel failures resulting in casualty, according to the company.