Q&A | Safe Access to Equipment

November 8th, 2013 | , , ,

Question: Do I have to provide safe access to all of my ammonia refrigeration equipment?


According to current codes and standards, the answer is a resounding YES! The 2013 California Mechanical Code states the following under General Requirements:

1106.3 Access. An unobstructed readily accessible opening and passageway not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in width and 80 inches (2032 mm) in height shall be provided and maintained to the compressor, valves required by this chapter, or other portions of the system requiring routine maintenance.However, there is an exception noted directly under Section 1106.3 that states: Refrigerant evaporators, suspended overhead, shall be permitted to use portable means of access. So for any non-suspended evaporator, the code requirement is that access must be provided.One thing worth noting is that the access requirement applies to all components requiring routine maintenance. I don’t know if the meaning of routine has been clearly defined by code officials, but my interpretation would suggest that any equipment (other than suspended evaporators) covered under an IIAR Bulletin No. 109 Inspection should have safe access as required by this code.

And for the non-Californian readers of this blog, these other codes and standards define similar requirements:


8.3 Safe Access. A clear and unobstructed approach and space shall be provided for inspection, service, and emergency shutdown of condensing units, compressor units, condensers, stop valves, and other serviceable components of refrigerating machinery. Permanent ladders, platforms, or portable access equipment shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of the AHJ.

ANSI/IIAR 2-2008 A clear and unobstructed approach and space shall be provided to refrigerating machinery for inspection, service, and emergency shutdown with adequate clearances for maintenance of equipment. There shall be clear headroom of not less than 7.25 ft [2.21 m] below equipment situated over passageways. All manually operated valves inaccessible from floor level shall be operable from portable platforms, fixed platforms, ladders, or shall be chain-operated. Isolation valve(s) identified as being part of an emergency shutdown procedure shall be directly operable or chain-operated from a permanent work surface.

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