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How to Operate a Vacuum Pump Safely?

Design, safety and technology used in vacuum pumps has improved immensely in the last few decades. Be that as it may, vacuum pumps and other related devices found in vacuum systems still present the risk of injury to people that work with them, if not properly installed or managed. Read on to find out how to make vacuum pump-related accidents a thing of the past. We have written down some of our best practices with your safety in mind.

 

Remember! The content herein offers guidelines, which describe the possible requirements for the safe operation of vacuum pumps. These do not claim to be exhaustive or to give an exact interpretation of existing safety legislation. Furthermore, any special features offered by respective products as well as their different application possibilities must be taken into account.

Use as Prescribed!

The first rule of designated use is that a vacuum pump should be used the way it was intended to be used. Now that we got the obvious out of the way, let’s move on to the less obvious reasons:

A vacuum pump should:

  • be operated in areas or spaces as described in its operating instructions;
  • be operated at an ambient temperature and a suction temperature set within the manufacturer’s tolerances;
  • convey, compress or extract gases only according to those outlined in its operating instructions.

 

A vacuum pump should not:

  • be operated the machine when it is only partially assembled
  • be placed in an enclosed, unventilated or not sufficient ventilated cabinet

Take Care around Chemicals

Due to the increasing use of hazardous chemicals in vacuum pumping systems, a greater potential for the occurrence of a dangerous accident exists.

Use ATEX Pumps to Avoid Dangerous Accidents

To minimize this, ATEX certified pumps must be used when extracting, conveying and compressing explosive and flammable media, or when installing in environments that are at risk of explosion. Learn about the ATEX directive.

Educate Yourself

Information is power, and knowing is half the battle. This rings very true when it comes to accident prevention. When dealing with vacuum pumps, keep the following in mind:

  • Read and understand the device(s) operating instructions before starting work.
  • Read and understand the safety instructions for installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and inspection of the device.
  • Manage the responsibilities and competencies of staff working with the device by making sure all are technical specialists, and have the proper accreditation.

 

Important! In addition, please follow your region’s current accident prevention, safety and operating regulations, as enforced by law. 

Safety Notes for the Operator

Operators of vacuum pumps must pay particular attention to ensure their safety. Remember that vacuum systems are especially at risk of severe implosion hazards, and as someone who comes in close proximity and contact with vacuum pumps, take the following safety tips to heart:

  • Make sure hot parts of the pump are not be accessible during operation and/or are fitted with protective guards
  • Make sure electrical components such as cords and switches are defect free
  • Do not operate pumps near containers of flammable chemicals, flammable chemical wastes, or combustible materials such as paper or cardboard
  • Do not use solvents that might damage the pump
  • Make sure that belt guards are in place during the pump’s operation
  • Always close the valve between the vacuum vessel and the pump before shutting off the pump. This prevents sucking vacuum oil into the system. You may also install a non-return/check valve or use a pump with an integrated check valve at the suction;
  • Always place a pan under pumps to catch oil drips
  • Check oil levels and change oil when necessary
  • Conduct all vacuum operations behind a table shield or in a fume hood and always wear safety glasses
  • Always use a trap on vacuum lines to prevent liquids from being drawn into the pump, house vacuum line, or water drain
  • Record oil change dates and to keep track of the pump’s maintenance schedule
  • Never place your hand over the suction inlet of the pump to check the level of suction as this may result in a serious injury
  • Pump may start without warning. Always isolate the power supply to the motor before commencing any work on the pump and motor or any other element of the vacuum system.

 

Remember…

  • Connection of motor to power supply only by electrician staff, use a suitable motor protection
  • For pumping of greater than atmospheric concentrations of oxygen or other highly reactive gases use only pumps that are certified for this operation
  • Exhaust line is always necessary when the pumped gases are dangerous
  • Never operate the pump with a blocked or restricted exhaust line
  • Keep the pump and motor in a clean condition, especially the cooling fans, this prevents overheating
  • Let the pump cool down before maintenance action
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