Chiksan piping is a type of marine loading arm, used as an alternative to cargo hoses. Because the piping is rigid metal, it can transfer liquids or gases at higher speeds and pressures. For that reason, Chiksan piping and fittings are installed on thousands of ships worldwide. Chiksan fittings and joints are joined by ball-bearing swivels that can turn 360 degrees in any plane, allowing the rigid piping to follow the movement of the ship as it transfers its cargo.
In addition to the swivel joints, the pipes contain an automatic emergency release mechanism, so if the cargo pressure exceeds the limits of the piping, it immediately disconnects from the ship, ceases any pumping, and closes the isolating valves on either end. The swivel joints and the emergency release valves in the piping are the most important elements, which means they require frequent and consistent maintenance.
Without maintenance, the ball-bearings can wear down, similar to a differential in a car. However, the physics of the piping is far different from a car's differential gearbox—weak joints will cause the equipment to fall apart suddenly, even if it seems to operate normally. This can result in devastating injuries, posing a danger to workers.
For example, in 1984, a Chiksan swivel joint was utilized during the cleaning of an oil rig’s drilling equipment. The swivel joint allowed the machine to clean the drill more effectively. The entire operation was conducted without any problems and the job was completed. However, 30 minutes later, a worker was walking under the non-operational equipment when the top joint came apart. The equipment plummeted to the ground, striking the worker.
Injuries can also occur if Chiksan pipe components are:
Poor valves or a malfunctioning emergency release mechanism can also result in the pipe suddenly bursting or releasing potentially dangerous chemicals all over the workers who are handling the cargo. There is video evidence of what happens when a Chiksan component causes fluid to transfer at much higher pressures than it can handle—it causes the pipe to detach suddenly and unsafely, spilling oil or releasing gas into the surrounding air.
If a malfunctioning Chiksan pipe injured you, Arnold & Itkin is ready to help. We have extensive experience and have helped hundreds of injured maritime workers receive compensation for sustained damages.
While they can be very effective and helpful in the field, if not maintained, inspected, or kept up regularly, Chiksan pipes can suffer weaknesses around the joints that lead to a pressure explosion or other types of accidents. These heavy-duty, yet flexible hoses are used for high-pressure pumping of gasoline, liquid cement, and other materials. They are also used to flow oil and gas from a well into a separator during well development.
The pipes can be connected by hammer unions and tightened by belting and nut lugs. If any of this process wasn’t done correctly, a piece of the pipe was damaged, or a lug nut was loosened, a serious accident could occur. In the fast moving environment of an oil rig, a small setback or extra task could be tough for a worker or company owner to get to. However, that small, overlooked task may lead to something as serious as a Chiksan pipe burst.
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