Electric heaters are often used when heat duties are small and/or for plant startups prior to the availability of hot oil or steam. These heaters are often purchased as “black boxes” from vendors. In these cases, they may not have the appropriated safeguards.
This article is an analysis of an actual accident with an electric heater. The analysis given in this article shows that these heaters need to be included in PHAs and given appropriate safeguards—normally more than initially part of a vendor's unit. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2011.