Turek originally developed the non-return valve cleaner when he was working as a pumper and was having problems with non-return valves. Non-return valves are located at each pump attachment, which in turn are located at multiple points along a pump line to allow pumps to be installed at any location along the pipeline.
Attachment points not in use block up with mud and coal fragments in the tee pipe above the non-return valve. When a pump is attached, the blockage must first be cleared to allow the pump to operate.
The usual method of clearing was to force the non-return valve open with a steel rod, Turek said. He added that when the blockage was dislodged, the mud and coal debris could spray back towards the operator under the pressure of other pumps operating on the line. Operators either got sprayed, or had to work in awkward positions to try to keep out of the way of the spray – which could lead to strain injuries, slips or falls.
When Turek was working as a deputy he noticed the simple and dangerous unblocking method was still being used, so he asked himself “could we do something about this?” The result was the non-return valve cleaner.
The cleaning attachment is fitted and wound in via a handle. When the valve clears the spray is directed downwards away from the operator.
“The cleaning attachment provides a simple, safe and efficient method of clearing the pump attachment points. It also helps prevent damage to the valves. There is no need to use direct physical force, and the resulting debris spray is controlled,” Turek said.