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HSE CONSIDERATION IN DETECTING SURFACE FLAW / CRACK USING LIQUID PENETRANT

METHOD

A : Bro !!! aku mau cek dulu joint atas pipe rack tu sama flare punya pilot gas line, boleh sign aku
punya PTW ???

B : Owh boleh, tapi boleh tolong attach msds ??

A : Ala, sign jak la simple jak nie, Dye pen jak pun, kerja nie dalam 15 min jak pun

Penetrant testing (PT), which is also known or referred as to dye penetrant inspection (DPI),
penetrant flaw inspection (PFD) or liquid penetrant inspection (LPI) is one of the oldest and simplest
Non-destructive method (NDT) in revealing surface discontinuity through the bleed out of visible
contrast or fluorescence dye. It is based on what we called as capillary action. PT is a popular method
among QC’s / organization due to it is relatively easy to use, flexible, as you will only need the
chemicals, tissue / cloth / lint to wipe excess penetrant and UV lamp / torchlight for fluorescence, and
last but not least PT is cheap compared to other methods (MT you need magnetic yoke, RT you need
the isotope, etc).

PT usually involve a simple step which are usually consist of

a) Surface preparation : quite critical as you must remove all dust, grease or whatever that could
block the entry of the penetrant into the defect. Usually we do it by mechanical cleaning (grinding,
brushing, blasting) or chemical cleaning (Vapour degreasing, acid pickling, etc)

b) Penetrant application : Just apply the penetrant and leave it for a period of time. The penetration
time of a penetrant usually 5-60 minutes (as per BS EN 571-1)

c) Removal of excess penetrant : again you will use another chemical to remove the excess
penetrant, except if you are using the water washable type penetrant than you will wash the excess
penetrant using water, but logically who will bring gallons of water to the pipe rack for inspection
purpose

d) Developer application : And again you will use another chemical known as developer which we will
use in order to draw back the trapped penetrant in the defect.

e) Inspection : for visible contrast method you will only use the normal visible light (minimum 500 lux
of illumination as per BS EN 571-1) but if you use fluorescence type of penetrant, you will you will use
UV-A lamp / torchlight for inspection.

f) Reporting / cleaning : last step of the penetrant testing.

Though this surface flaw detection method are popular among QC / organization yet NDT workers /
practitioners need to consider some HSE issues that sometimes are being overlooked. Here are
some HSE consideration that you might want to consider during carrying out the job

a) Chemical usage

There is a lot of chemicals being use during the process of penetrant inspection. From the simple
process brief mentioned above we could list about 3 chemicals being used which are the dye
penetrant itself, the cleaner which are used to remove excess penetrant and lastly the developer. Not
to mention other chemicals being used during surface preparation. On site, some NDT technician use
solvent such as thinner for surface preparation. From the MSDS, the penetrant could cause fatality if
swallow or enter our airways. Not to mention that all the chemical use for penetrant testing are of
flammable type of chemicals. According to British institute of Non-destructive testing (BINDT) and The
Welding Institute (TWI), 60% of the PT job are carried out using red azo dye (CL solvent red 164 dye).
This aromatic azo compound have strong colour which are suitable for PT as it is easily visible. But it
is known that some azo dyes can be metabolised in the body producing ortho-toluidine, a substance
classified as category 2 carcinogen in the European Union.

So it is advise-able that all NDT workers wear all the required PPE such as respirator / mask, goggle /
safety glass and gloves to prevent from contact with the chemicals. Other precaution that can be
implemented is by substituting the red azo dye penetrant to the non-red azo dye, use other method
such as MT, avoid spray application and others. Personally you can avoid spray application to reduce
mist by spraying the dye into containment and apply the dye at the test piece / joint using brush.

b) The use of UV lamp / torchlight

In PT usually there are 2 type of penetrant being used, the first one is visible contrast penetrant (the
red dye) and the second one is fluorescent penetrant. Fluorescent penetrant system are more
sensitive than the visible contrast, but it requires darkened area and UV radiation for inspection. For
UV radiation we usually use a sodium / mercury vapour bulb (which we call on site as UV lamp /
torchlight) to emit UV light. This sodium / mercury vapour bulb release 3 distinctive spectral bands
which are UV-A radiation (the radiation that we want for inspection and have the longest wavelength
among the 3 UVs), UV-B radiation (much shorter wavelength but not shortest) and lastly UV-C
radiation (Shortest wavelength). UV-C and B are highly hazardous to health and can cause cancer.

So if you are using fluorescent penetrant system, make sure you inspect the UV lamp / torchlight for
leaking. The lamp and torchlight usually have wood filter which filter other UVs aside from UV-A which
we want to use for inspection. Never ever point the UV lamp / torchlight to your eye or skin, avoid
looking directly at the source of the light and avoid unnecessary skin exposure. If the UV lamp emits
other than the normal black light know that it is leaking, quickly notify your supervisor and don’t
expose yourself to it, you might get tanned / burn or even worse !!!! There is a TLV on the exposure
please refer equipment datasheet.

c) Waste from consumable

During the job, you will wipe the red dye, developer or other chemicals using cloth, lint fibre or tissue.
Never ever throw this waste to domestic waste area and do not allow it to enter drain or water
courses, please consult your environment officer. This type of waste may be schedule waste. This
one is often overlooked.

There are other consideration (i.e slip trip and fall, housekeeping issue, confine space for inspection)
but this is all I can list out for this writing.

Thank you

Reference

a) Magnaflux MSDS for solvent remove-able penetrant, cleaner and developer


b) Project Liquid penetrant inspection procedure for Urea stripper
c) BS EN 571-1:1997, Non-destructive testing, penetrant testing Part-1, General principle
d) EN ISO 3452-2, NDT, PT Part 2, Testing of penetrant material