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Are there any OSHA regulations that need to be taken into account when using thermal insulating coatings?

By Howard Mitschke | Last updated: January 19, 2021

Editor's note: this question was answered in The Use of Insulation Coatings for Burn Protection, a Webinar from Corrosionpedia. See more on our Webinar page.

When it pertains to temperature limits, no—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have regulations that state specific temperature limits for materials in general, nor for surface temperatures of insulation materials. You simply can't state an absolute temperature limit for every individual situation. The OSHA does consider hot objects as a potential safety hazard and does say that thermal hazards must be investigated for methods to protect workers. The first method is to prevent access to the hot objects. (Be sure to read Use of Insulating Coatings for Hazard Protection.) If that is not feasible, then personnel protective equipment must be provided.

For reference, OSHA has a letter on its website dated January 27, 2009 that states that OSHA does not have a specific standard nor guidelines as to what temperature should metal pipe be insulated to avoid burning of the skin on contact. In this letter, OSHA refers to ASTM C1055 for more detailed guidance on temperature limits. OSHA does have regulations regarding hot steam pipes, and has regulations about insulating them, but this would be well above the temperature limits of typical thermal barrier (insulation) coatings. I am not aware of any other OSHA regulations that are specific to insulation coatings.

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End Users Temperature Under Insulation Preventative Coatings Corrosion Prevention Equipment Paints and Plastics Coatings Corrosion Prevention Substance Corrosion Prevention Substance Characteristics General Equipment Government Engineering and Spec Writing Expert Content

Written by Howard Mitschke

Profile Picture of Howard Mitschke
Howard has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology at the University of Houston. He worked for Shell Oil Co. for 32 years and retired in 2009. During his career he worked in biochemistry, epoxy resins technology, materials testing and was a coatings specialist for 17 years. As a coating specialist he was responsible for Research & Development on many different coating issues, on technical support, writing coating specifications and for qualification of coating products.

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