Pressure vessels - or air receivers - are an integral part of a compressed air system. You will no doubt have at least two pressure vessels within your compressed air system; the external air receiver and the internal air receiver - like an oil separator - which can be found within, for example, a screw compressor.
If improperly installed, used or maintained air receivers can be potentially very dangerous and can lead to catastrophic outcomes such as; fatalities, serious injuries and damage to property. As a result, the governing Australian Standard AS 4343 requires that pressure vessels with a hazard level of A, B, C or D must have their designs registered with the relevant state or territory OHS regulatory body. The design of the pressure vessel must also be verified by an independent design verifying body as part of the registration process, to confirm that the design complies with AS 1210 and/or the original design code.
Australian standards and regulations also requires that pressure vessels with a hazard level of A, B, C & D must be plant registered before it can be used, with the relevant state or territory OHS regulatory body.
The responsibility to register the plant design lies with the importer of the pressure vessel into Australia, and the registration of the items of plant lies with the owner or operator of the pressure vessel. Depending on the state or territory, the owner/operator may also be required to periodically renew the registration as well as inform the OHS regulatory body of any changes in ownership, control or relocation of fixed plant.
Failure to comply with current pressure vessel Australian Standards and legislations can potentially lead to the owner of the pressure equipment being fined.
Air compressor pressure vessels are often not given the attention they should when it comes to maintenance. However, regular inspection and maintenance of an air receiver is paramount in ensuring that it continues to operate efficiently and safely, remaining compliant with State or Territory OHS laws and regulations.
In accordance with the Australian Standard AS 3788, depending on the size, design pressure and hazard level, an air compressor pressure vessel should be inspected externally every 2 years and internally every 4 years by a competent person.
Visit the Safe Work Australia website for more information about the regulations that apply in your State or Territory.
Please note: information correct at time of writing - March 2016.