Founded in 1880, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) was originally created to help engineers pioneering the new age of mechanization come together to work through common issues during a time of rapid change. But not long after the society’s inception, safety became a key component of their mission.
Just four years after its inception, the ASME established a Boiler Testing Code in response to several deadly boiler explosions. By 1915 the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code was created in order to encompass newly developed tanks entering the market. During this same period it became clear that a national body was needed to oversee the implementation of commonly held standards to ensure the safety of workers and fairly regulate of the industry. In 1919 a number of engineering organizations, including ASME, proposed the formation of the American Engineering Standards Committee, which is still in existence today but after a name change in 1969 became the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI doesn’t develop standards, instead contracts with other engineering originations to develop specialized standards for their industry’s specific needs.
While the original focus of standards and safety regulations may have been on boilers manufactured in the United States, today ASME is recognized for developing design and manufacturing standards for all types of pressure vessels which have been adopted all over the world. ASME’s Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is highly utilized for numerous sections detailing safety regulations that cover everything from boilers, pressure vessels, material certifications, welding standards, and even nuclear installations.
Once safety standards that could prevent risk of serious injury and death were widely adopted, ASME was able to incorporate additional safety measures that improve working conditions such as accident prevention, including activities such as heavy lifting and safe transport. Over the decades, the need to include additional regulations for modern technologies has meant that ASME created codes for elevators, steam turbines, and even nuclear power.
ASME has effectively shaped the work environment and collaborative nature of pressure vessel engineers around the world, making safety a right of manufacturers and operators.