With over 40 years of experience working in various facets of the industrial industry, Steve Beeson has dedicated his knowledge of the oil & gas, hydraulics, and pressurized hoses sectors, to ensuring the safety and strengths of high-pressure restraint systems. His passion for understanding how things work, coupled with his interest in pressurized hoses and pipes, has allowed him to gain valuable knowledge on the testing of different types of restraints and the most effective steps to follow to ensure safety products used for pressurized hoses are as reliable as possible.
By Jana McKinnon and Angelica Pajkovic
As far back as he can remember, Beeson has wanted to understand how things work. His mother often tells the story of hearing his highchair crash to the ground after he, as a toddler, had unscrewed all the screws to see what they were for. Raised by a father that could build and fix anything, Beeson grew up with hands on, practical skills. He used this knowledge to traverse his own desire to know how things operated. By the age of 13 he had built his own hot rod 55 Chevy. At 18, Beeson started in the oil & gas industry, and was again encouraged to explore and further expand on his natural abilities by his employers. There he continued his education in welding, engineering, machining, electrical, and hydraulics. Together, with the owners of the company, he led the team to build the first certified engineered pole truck from the ground up, and also designed and developed the only digital weight indicator for pole/gin trucks. During this time, Beeson also worked with mobile 15K hydraulic power units along with a system of 100 ton jacks to straighten damaged rig parts along with drilling rig leveling.
In the early 2000s, Beeson welcomed an opportunity to earn some extra money making pipe clamps and safety hobbles for rotary and vibrator hoses. Along with many of his friends, he had worked around pressurized hoses and pipes most of his adult life and had seen the potential dangers associated with high-pressure hose and piping failures. His interaction with these hoses ultimately led to a new passion: testing the ability and strengths of high-pressure restraint systems.
In 2003, Beeson had found his calling and co-founded American Iron Works (AIW), a company that specializes in safety products used with pressurized hoses and pipes. Now, with 42 years of accumulative experience, AIW operates in a 42,000 square foot facility in Yukon, Oklahoma and ships its products worldwide.
When Beeson first started testing different types of restraints for the safety products he works with, he hired several third party engineers to help determine what loads were applied to restraints during a failure. They had to work together to analyze all the possibilities such as: stationary pipe to hose center failures, slack in systems, and crossing hoses. All of the potential pain points were considered and the team worked collaboratively to consider the worst case scenarios, determine what loads were applied, and work on solutions. After hundreds of tests and reverse engineering studies, Beeson and his team arrived at a formula that could be used on a wide range of hose and piping sizes.
“We were able to create a starting point for our safety factors by using 100% of static loads for liquid and 200% for gases. One of the first things that became very apparent to me was that the safety products that are routinely used to keep employees safe around pressurized hoses were grossly inadequate,” stated Beeson. “The further I looked into it, even the most well-intentioned facilities, the ones that had gone to great expense installing products designed to keep the workplace safe, had either installed inadequate products without proper PSI ratings or failed to install the systems properly.”
Beeson therefore dedicated his time to attempting to mitigate the risk of hose related injuries.
When testing the commonly used systems below their rated PSI, in simulated pressurized failures, most failed miserably, explained Beeson. “Seeing the results of these hoses untethered, wiping out everything in their path, will make you a believer, especially during failures with air or gases. Witnessing the potential danger makes one realize how essential it is to have the right protections in place.”
Beeson became aware of the value of testing safety products and the need to test larger hoses and piping. This is where the evolution of machining a nipple or a hose fitting was discovered. “Over time we learned that by machining a groove into a nipple or fitting, we could cause the hose or piping to fail at a pre-determined PSI. Whether it is for a 12” lay flat hose fittings or a 2”, 3”, or 4” 1502 piping, this method is now our go to for determining which type restraint works the best,” relayed Beeson.
Through his experience, Beeson also learned about type and installation instructions needed to prevent failures. “We found that when the hose separates from its crimped fitting area, the hose often shreds several inches from the end of where it blows out of the crimped area. If the restraint was Hose-Hobble. placed in this area, it could fail to restrain the hose due to lack of material to securely tighten on to. For this reason, we recommend restraints be placed three times the outside diameter up on the hose from the end of the crimped fitting. In addition, we recommend 12 wraps of a rubberized PVC tape in that area to show the employee where to place the restraint but also start the choking action,” advised Beeson.
Avoiding Dangerous Mistakes
One of the most common errors seen with safety products for hoses, is the use of the common 200 PSI Whip Check on hydraulic or air hoses above 200 PSI. “The Whip Check has a place in the industry, but only on hoses under 200 PSI,” stated Beeson.
“The Whip Checks 200 PSI rating not only has a lack of strength in the material, but its loop over design will fail to tighten during a failure,” he continued. “It is often the wrong type of restraint and I hear of several fatalities each year from this product being used on systems above 200 PSI.” In order to reduce the potential for such high risk accidents, it is therefore essential to use the correct application for the correct pressures.
When determining the best type of restraint for an application, the user first needs to calculate the possible forces or loads to the restraint. These loads can be calculated by using 100% of static load for liquid, and 200% of static load for gases.
The second, but equally important piece of information that is required, is what the application is. Once this is determined the customer and supplier can work together to choose which restraint will work best for them. “If, for example, an employee is working in close proximity to the pressurized hose, we may want to consider a restraint that limits side to side whipping during a hose failure, like the Whip Stop. This tubular braided restraint is built similar to Chinese Hand Cuffs, and does a great job of distributing the forces from the failure along several inches or feet of the hose. Additionally, the anchor points on the opposed sides limits the side-to-side whipping.”
With several work related injuries and fatalities due to hose failures occurring each year, Beeson recommends following the following guidelines when selecting safety products:
- Determine the type of restraint for your application.
- Make sure the restraint has both air and liquid PSI ratings clearly listed on tag or label.
- Train employees to stay out of the ‘line of fire’.
- Train employees on proper placement, inspection and life span of your restraint.
If you would like to see some of AIW’s explosive testing, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheSbeeson
All images courtesy of American Iron Works.