Regulator Flashback Arrestors
Flashback arrestors are commonly used safety devices that stop or impede the progress of a flame front upstream of the insertion point. They are used to prevent damage to equipment, but more importantly to prevent personal injury. This article covers some basic information about regulator flashback arrestors.
Why do I need regulator style flashback arrestors?
If the regulator is misused and/or damaged, an accident called a flashback can occur. A flashback is an ignition of mixed gases which flows back to the source of the gases such as the hose, regulator, and cylinder at a speed which is greater than five times the speed of sound, creating the risk of injury or equipment damage.
Some of the ways that a flashback can occur is by running the tip into the work, improper settings on the torch, or faulty or damaged equipment. By having flashback arrestors on the regulator, you are protecting the source of the fuel and oxygen and equipment from a highly explosive situation that can lead to large amounts of damage and/or lose of life.
How do I know what flashback arrestor is right for my regulators?
It is important to read all instructions included with your equipment including prior to putting them into use. These instructions will include vital information for safety and usage. This information should include flow and pressure specifications which allow you to identify the proper tips and flashback arrestors. Improper tips and flashback arrestors can actually cause flashbacks and decrease the quality of work as well as create unsafe situations. Many applications require high flows, so qualifying your equipment requirements is of vital importance. If you are unsure, please consult the equipment manufactures for assistance.
Why aren’t flashback arrestors required by law or in the U.S. OSHA safety regulation?
OSHA has cited employers for failure to use flashback arrestors under the broad federal regulation 29 CFR 1910.252, failure to recognize the responsibility to provide for the safe use of gas cutting and welding equipment. An accident and subsequent fine by OSHA can be multiplied by the number of similar set ups in the same facility even when an accident did not occur on said set ups. These fines can quickly increase to thousands of dollars.
Are flashback arrestors expensive?
A set of flashback arrestors for a regulator usually costs less than a new regulator. However, they provide years of automatic protection against many types of accidents including flashbacks, reverse flow of hazardous gases, hose fires (when equipped with a thermal shut off) which could lead to lost time accidents, and equipment damage far exceeding their cost. By any measure, they are a good investment which will pay off for many years with routine maintenance.