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

Howard Mitschke
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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. Full Bio


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


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. If that is not feasible, then personnel protection must be provided.

For reference, the OSHA has a letter on its website that you can see here, dated Jan 27, 2009 that states that the 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, the OSHA refers to ASTM C1055 for more detailed guidance on temperature limits. The 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 insulation coatings. I am not aware of any other OSHA regulations that are specific to insulation coatings.

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