Canadian Underwriter

New boiler inspection rules coming to Ontario agriculture

July 28, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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An exemption from inspection rules for boilers and pressure vessels in Ontario’s agricultural sector is coming to an end.

Starting next year, boilers and pressure vessels will have to get a certificate of inspection from the province’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority, government and consumer services minister Lisa Thompson has announced.

As it stands, Ontario law prohibits the operation of boilers and pressure vessels without a certificate of inspection by the TSSA, whose wide range of responsibilities also includes oil tanks, amusement park rides and elevators, among others. But for boilers and pressure vessels, there is an exemption from the inspection requirement for agricultural operations, such as greenhouses, mushroom farms, and maple syrup farms, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lyskyk noted in her 2018 report to the legislature.

That exemption ends next July, Ryan Jones, assistant vice president of loss control services at Cambridge-based Farm Mutual Re, said in an interview Monday.

“Generally, it’s a good idea to implement more rigour around how we use boilers and pressure vessels in Ontario,” said Jones, who learned of the exemption last week in a letter from Thompson to members of a government and consumer services ministry panel.

Ontario’s Technical Standard and Safety Authority Act gives the government and consumer services minister the power to “exempt any thing or part of any thing or any class of thing or any class of person from any provision of this Act.”  The minister’s exemption applying to boilers and pressure vessels in the agricultural sector was issued in 2001. That exemption is revoked effective July 1, 2021, says a July 17, 2020 letter from Thompson, posted to the TSSA website.

As a result, going forward, a periodic inspection would need be performed by either TSSA or the insurer of the boiler or pressure vessel, Jones told Canadian Underwriter.

“The biggest impact will probably be the greenhouse industry. Greenhouses have power generation, they have boilers. And most of those operations are larger than your standard Kitchener-Waterloo manufacturing facility, as far as the steam they are producing.”

Right now, there is a risk that operators may not necessarily understand the requirements, such as maintaining safety valves over pressure protection devices, said Jones. So without the inspection requirement, there is a risk that if a device catastrophically fails, safety devices may not operate as they should.

“Conversely,” he added, “you could see objects being operated in a dangerous condition continuously because the operators are unaware of the condition in which they are operating boilers.”

The auditor general recommended lifting the exemption in 2018.

“Information provided to the TSSA by one large insurer revealed that from 2015 to mid-2017, six boilers exploded at agricultural sites exempt from safety laws,” Lysyk wrote in her 2018 report.

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