As a consultant, I would always recommend using the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the hyperbaric chamber to perform routine maintenance and repairs. I am not aware of any rule requiring the OEM to perform the maintenance; but NFPA 99 does require the hyperbaric safety director to approve installation, repairs, and modifications of equipment. I would include safety director approval of routine maintenance as well.
When choosing a vendor to maintain the hyperbaric equipment, there are warranty and liability issues to consider. Some OEMs might train and authorize non-employees to maintain their equipment, but others might assert that their employees are the only authorized maintenance personnel. If unauthorized personnel maintain or repair equipment, an OEM might void the equipment warranty and may be able to deny any liability.
Regardless of who performs the maintenance work, the hyperbaric facility should ensure the following:
- All routine maintenance recommended by the OEM is performed.
- Only OEM parts or parts that exactly match OEM specifications are used.
- Maintenance personnel are competent to perform the work. Most of us would assume competence if the OEM performs the maintenance.
- The hyperbaric safety director approves all maintenance work before the equipment is used.
- The hyperbaric safety director retains thorough documentation of the maintenance work performed.
In almost every hyperbaric facility, there are mechanical components and equipment outside the scope of the chamber manufacturer to maintain. It is important for all these items to be included in the hyperbaric facility maintenance program.
International ATMO offers a Hyperbaric Facility Maintenance Course. It is designed to help you develop a comprehensive maintenance program and to understand the nature of hyperbaric maintenance work. This will make you an informed consumer when purchasing hyperbaric maintenance services.
Robert Sheffield, BA, CHT
Director of Education