Hand Sanitiser, Are you aware of the Fire Risks?

The outbreak of The COVID 19 pandemic has shaken global society. All aspects of life are affected, and containing the spread of the virus during, and post lockdown is now the main priority. Masks, gloves and hand sanitiser are quickly becoming the norm.

We are all working to reduce the risk of further outbreaks of the virus and public safety is a priority.

The health of our economy also poses a considerable risk, and we need as a society to ensure that the country gets back on its feet to maintain jobs and income while sticking to the guidelines.

 

hand sanitiser article feature image

We are all familiar with the guidelines issued by the government and as we enter the latter stages of restriction lifting, and more businesses and schools prepare to reopen.

It is now more critical than ever that we consider all the risks and spend time carrying out assessments regularly.

Hand Sanitiser consumption and demand has exploded over the last few months since the outbreak, and most workplaces across the country are installing sanitising means for employees and customers which is a very positive step for hygiene reducing the spread of the virus.

As schools, hospitals, creches, and all other businesses introduce new requirements, including the use of hand sanitiser, there is a need to recognise the fire risk storing hand sanitiser in bulk creates.

We have already had numerous companies contact us regarding bulk storage of this product and looking for advice.

What is Hand Sanitiser made from?

Antibacterial Hand Sanitiser is predominantly manufactured using Alcohol and Triethanolamine. The product ranges from 60 – 80% alcohol and by its nature is a highly flammable liquid and an eye and skin irritant

what is it made from hand sanitiiser

Pure Alcohol has a flashpoint of 13 degrees, and Sanistiser with concentrations of 70% alcohol can be as low as 15 degrees which creates a serious fire hazard if storing the product in bulk on your premises.

fire safety flammable

Storage Guidelines

As with any flammable liquid, it is essential when storing bulk quantities that adequate safety measures are taken.

Flammable materials must not be stored near exits, electrical equipment or heating equipment. They should always be stored in a separate, well-ventilated storage area, away from potential sources of ignition. If the material is removed from its original container, it must be placed into a container that is appropriate for flammable materials.

We recommend storing flammable Hand Santiser in a certified safety cabinet or with bulk quantities above 1000 Litres in an external store that is bunded and has a certified Fire Resistance.

For specialist advice for how to safely handle and store Hand Sanitiser please contact Chemstore today for a free no obligations site assessment or to discuss your specific concerns.

Chem-eShop

Chemstore is delighted to announce the launch of our online shop, Chem-eShop. This online store will fetaure the majority of Chemstore products such as personal protective equipment, saftey cabinets, bunded spill pallets and much more.

Chem-eShop can be accessed by clicking the hyperlink below this image.

Know Your Requirements for Chemical & Hazardous Material Management

“Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances” – European Safety Agency

An EU wide campaign for all member states created by the European Safety Agency in relation to chemical and hazardous materials management has been widely welcomed by member states.

Of note, The HSE have been strong advocates which is welcoming news,  reinforcing the importance for companies from all industries handling Chemicals, Dangerous & Hazardous Materials.

“The HSE are delighted to support the European Safety Agency’s campaign and have taken this opportunity to review chemical safety to provide helpful information and tools for all our colleagues to better manage hazardous chemicals in the workplace.” HSE website

The most important message we can draw from this is that all Safety Managers should be aware of their requirements when it comes to hazardous chemical compliance management in their workplace.

Workers are exposed to dangerous substances in many European workplaces. Such exposures are more common than most people realise and, in fact, may occur in almost all workplaces. This presents major safety and health concerns.

A step by step process has been published by the HSE which details your requirements for chemical management in stages.

1. Review All Chemicals

chemical containers stacked on shelving

A common issue for the workplace is awareness of exactly what chemicals are used and stored in their workplace. It is imperative that a detailed chemical inventory is carried out for chemical management. By knowing what is on-site is the first step and can work as a useful exercise to carry out the long finger task of clearing out the “shelf in the corner” or “locked old storeroom”. It can serve as a housekeeping exercise to reduce over-ordering of materials which is another common issue with Chemicals we discover on site.

There is no greater risk than expired chemicals sitting in storage, It is a catastrophe sitting in wait!

2. Identify Hazardous Chemicals

chemical bottle protection of a hazardous chemical with GHS symbols that indicate toxicity, corrosivity and contamination

Reading container labels is a start;

When purchasing chemicals, it is a legal requirement that all manufacturers issue a Safety Data Sheet for your consultation. You need to have all SDS sheets on file or you can’t possibly know all the risks that exist! It is also a legal requirement that you have these to hand in the event of an accident or emergency.

Another quick note is if there are any hazardous chemical containers on your site with the older CHIP hazard labels, it would suggest this chemical is now at least three years old and you need to consider safe disposal if the expiry dates are approaching. This is an essential element of correct chemical management.

3. Identify & Assess The Risks

Chemical Risk Assessment - Chempli - Methanol

As a manager, have you assessed your staff’s exposure to chemicals?

You are required to fully review all chemicals running a Chemical Agent Risk Assessment fully considering the following factors:

  • The Amount used or Stored
  • Classification of the Chemical
  • Potential Route Of Exposure
  • Physical, Health & Environmental Hazards
  • Dustiness or Volatility
  • Total Employee Exposure
  • SDS Review
  • Severity V Likelihood Evaluation

4. Implement Identified Controls

Hazardous materials White container and blue drums on an industrial storage site

Once you have assessed the risk associated with the use of chemicals, you are required to identify the control measures necessary to reduce the risks to a reasonable level, another essential for proper chemical management

Ensure you have considered the following the “STOP” principle according to the EU’s Chemical Agents Directive (CAD).

  • Substitution: Is there an alternative material available for your process that is deemed less hazardous?
  • Technological Measures: Is your lab/warehouse adequately ventilated to allow enough air changes/hr to remove harmful vapours from chemicals stored or used?
  • Organisational Measures: Are your chemicals stored safely? How can you reduce employee exposure? Have your employees been trained on how to safely use all hazardous chemicals in your facility? What are your emergency procedures? Have you considered the hazard class of the chemicals? Are you storing flammables? Do your chemicals need to be safely segregated to reduce the risk on your site?
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Wear protective clothing or equipment as identified through risk assessment and where necessary provide appropriate training in its use.

Do you have a Chemical Management System in place currently that you feel addresses your requirements as a manager above? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you prepared for your next audit?
  • Does the thought of it keep you awake at night?
  • Is your office full of paper copies of your Safety Data Sheets, Incident Reports, Regulatory requirements, staff training files and countless other documents?
  • Have you identified all the chemical risks in your workplace?
  • Do you need a chemical management system that works for you?

If you are unsure or would like to arrange a free no obligations site compliance assessment with a trained professional, please contact Chemstore by clicking here or by using the LiveChat in the bottom left of your browser.

References:

  • www.hse.ie/eng/staff/safetywellbeing/chemical-management/
  • www.osha.europa.eu/en
  • www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Chemical_and_Hazardous_Substances/Your_Steps_to_Chemical_Safety.pdf
  • www.chempli.com
Numerous Fatal Accidents in China: Chemical Plant Explosion

In this month’s edition of the Hazmat Bulletin, we take a look back at the tragic explosion that occurred in a Chemical Plant located in Yancheng, China which is the worst industrial accident since the explosion in Tianjin back in 2015.

 

The death toll has now been quoted at 78 and the number injured is in the hundreds. Reports have stated that the cause of the blast initiated from a vehicle carrying compressed gas which then caught fire which led to a secondary and more fatal explosion within a bulk chemical storage area containing a large volume of benzene.

“Local press reported that 176 fire trucks and 928 firefighters were initially involved in the incident. The South China Morning Post said the explosion was heard 40km away and China’s earthquake administration reported a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude at the time of the explosion on the afternoon of March 21”

 

Yancheng Satellite Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/world/asia/china-chemical-plant-explosion.html

 

 

Benzene

Benzene is a volatile and very dangerous material which has many adverse risks and side effects:

Health Hazard Danger Flammable

 

 

 

 

 

H225 Highly flammable liquid and vapour.

H304 May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways.

H315 Causes skin irritation.

H319 Causes serious eye irritation.

H340 May cause genetic defects.

H350 May cause cancer.

H372 Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure.

H412 Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

 

An explosion with such a large volume of Benzene had catastrophic consequences for the primary area with so many people losing their lives. What must also be recognised is the secondary effects of Benzene dispersal which spread into the atmosphere from the flames. Benzene will remain in the atmosphere for a worrying period of time.

“In February 2018, China’s State Administration for Work Safety cited 13 types of safety hazards at the company, including mishandling of tanks of toxic benzene, the source of the explosion.” 

Additional reports have stated that water sources in the locality have been heavily polluted with Dichloroethane and Dichloromethane which by their nature have a high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) on rivers and other water sources which will cause serious side effects for aquatic life and also the risk to the human population consuming drinking water.

 

Public and Official Response

“After the Tianjin blasts in 2015, the government expanded inspections and toughened punishments for companies that violated safety standards. But many executives have cut corners under pressure to meet strict production targets, especially as China grapples with an economic slowdown” 

(http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/169028/China-pesticide-plant-blast-kills-at-least-78.aspx)

“Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents ranging from mining disasters to factory fires that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.”

President Xi Jinping has exclaimed that all efforts should now be invested to help the injured survivors and the state media are pushing authorities to drastically increase action to prevent disasters like what has happened in Yancheng from doing so again.

 

Safety Regulations for Hazardous Materials Use, Transport & Storage in China

There is no debating that there needs to be a serious change in the approach to safety in Chinese industry. Particularly for Hazardous Materials or there will simply continue to be tragic accidents and innocent lives lost in the country.

Safety Legislation is written in Chinese law, but there seems to be continuous negligence to adhere to these laws and obviously. The penalties for such failures isn’t severe enough for the responsible organisations.

Below is a list of notable existing regulations in China for Hazardous Materials

https://www.chemsafetypro.com/Topics/China/Overview_of_Chemical_Regulations_in_China.html

It remains to be seen how safety culture in the country will change, but it is clear that there is a need for drastic improvements for the people of China.

 

For any queries on hazardous materials stored on your site, please don’t hesitate to Contact Chemstore for any advice and guidance you require.

 

Media Sources

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/world/asia/china-chemical-plant-explosion.html
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-47678641
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/death-toll-in-china-chemical-plant-explosion-increases-37940157.html
http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/169028/China-pesticide-plant-blast-kills-at-least-78.aspx

Additional Container Explosion

http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/169197/Second-China-factory-explosion-in-month-kills-seven.aspx?utm_campaign=NL190403&utm_source=emailCampaign&utm_medium=email&emailaddress=%7B~email~%7D#China

 

 

Gas Cylinder Storage – The Do’s and Dont’s

Introduction – Gas Cylinder Storage

This document provides advice and guidance for safe gas cylinder storage. It gives guidance on the construction and management of gas cylinder stores and provides information on the hazards likely to be encountered.

It shall be used when sitting and constructing storage facilities or when reviewing the safety and suitability of existing storage facilities. It does not preclude the use of alternative designs, materials, and methods when they provide equivalent standards of safety.

The content of this publication is in line with advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

If you need any help on a project that involves gas cylinder storage then you need to check out our Gasvault range here.

Scope

This document defines the principles of safe practice for the storage of gas cylinders and gas cylinder bundles and outlines the relevant legal requirements.

Cylinders are never fully empty unless a cylinder is new, de-valved, or following inspection and test where it has not yet been filled with a gas. Therefore, cylinders, containing a gas but regardless of the quantity of gas, shall all be treated in-line with this Code of Practice.

A gas cylinder(s) is deemed to be in storage when:

  • It is not in use; or
  • It is not being transported.

Storage of full and empty LPG cylinders and cartridges. Where a mixture of LPG (>400 kg) and other gas cylinders are stored then the applicable sections of UKLPG CP 7 (60) and this Code should be applied.

Exclusions from this Code of Practice are:

(i) Cylinders in use i.e. connected to the user equipment, or permanently connected for use; for example, fire protection systems and specifically sited emergency response equipment, such as fire extinguishers and self-contained breathing apparatus.

(ii) Cylinders being processed for filling or for periodic inspection and test.

(iii) Medical cylinders in domiciliary use.

(iv) Gas cylinders during carriage by road, rail, air, and sea.

(v) Cylinders permanently manifolded together to form part of a bulk gaseous hydrogen installation.

(vi) Transportable vacuum insulated containers.

(vii) Containers (vessels) for cryogenic liquids.

(viii) Cylinders stored off-shore.

(ix) Aerosols.

Gas Cylinder Identification

Gas Cylinder Idenification Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The cylinder label shall always be used as the primary means of identifying the contents of gas cylinders. The label will identify the product name and the class of hazard (Diamond Hazard Label(s)). Some gas cylinders may have this information stenciled on the body of the cylinder.

Colour coding is a secondary method of identifying certain gases or the properties of others, however, colour coding is not mandatory for most gases but its use is supported by the majority of gas suppliers. Colour coding is typically applied to the shoulder, or curved part, at the top of the cylinder.

Potential Hazards

Gas cylinders present a number of different hazards:

  • Size, shape and weight – Manual handling, security.
  • Pressure hazards.

Size, Shape, and Weight

Gas cylinders are generally heavy and are relatively unstable due to the base diameter to height ratio. Large cylinders can weigh over 100 kg when full they are easily toppled over. Gas cylinders are awkward objects to move safely.

Pressure Hazards

Cylinders contain gases stored under pressure and will have significant stored energy.

Any pressure above atmospheric released from a cylinder has the potential to cause injury to personnel or damage to plant or property.

Pressure can be released by:

  • Inadvertent operation of the outlet valve during handling.
  • Deliberate operation of the outlet valve.
  • Damage to the valve if cylinder topples or falls.
  • Application of heat, for example, fire.
  • Mechanical impact.
  • Leaking valve.
  • Operation of pressure relief devices.
  • Unauthorised modification of the cylinder assembly.
  • Failure of the cylinder wall, for example, from excessive internal and/or external corrosion (by reducing wall thickness).

Cylinder Store – Construction & General Principles

An Image depicting the features of the 8 Gas Cylinder Store equipped with anti corrosion aluminium checker plate, safety signage. i

Risk Assessment

All gas cylinders contain gases under pressure and may present a risk of explosion if not safely handled and stored. Legislation requires that a site-specific risk assessment is required for each gas cylinder store, refer to The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (6) and The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR). Every storage situation must be considered on its merits and special circumstances may necessitate variations on the recommended requirements.

Consent from the local authority may need to be obtained to store quantities of dangerous substances over certain thresholds. The regulations contain thresholds for both named substances, such as oxygen and hydrogen, and for generic categories of substances (flammable, toxic). For example, the threshold for oxygen storage is 200 tonnes, for flammables 50 tonnes, but for hydrogen only 2 tonnes. In some cases, the percentage / partial faction of thresholds (for example, flammables and oxidants) are additive when determining if consent is required.

Location of the Storage Area

The majority of gas cylinders are designed so that they can be stored in the open air and, as such, they will not be adversely affected by inclement weather.

Indoor Gas Cylinder Storage Cylinder Cabinet

Storage areas should be located in an external area where there is good natural ventilation. Adjacent buildings, structures, and geographical features may adversely affect natural ventilation and their effect should be taken into account during the risk assessment. The store should not be located in low lying areas; where gases may accumulate.

Storage within a building is not recommended. Where storage indoors cannot be avoided please see below. Internal storage locations should be at ground level and in the following order of preference:

(i) A bespoke stand-alone dedicated, adequately naturally ventilated building.

(ii) A dedicated room sealed from the rest of the building, adequately naturally ventilated to the outside, only accessible from an external door(s).

(iii) A dedicated room, adjacent to an outside wall, inside a building, adequately naturally ventilated to the outside, sealed from other areas of normal occupancy.

(iv) A dedicated room, inside a building, with forced air ventilation, sealed from other areas of normal occupancy.

(v) In a building, as far as is practicable away from normal work locations.

The location of the store shall take account of the minimum recommended separation distances, refer to Section 5.4.1. Cylinder stores are to be located away from the site designated emergency exits and escape routes.

Gas cylinder storage areas should be segregated from other stores. The risk assessment shall take due regard of the potential hazards of the gases being stored and the risk from other hazardous processes or storage sites that may impact on a cylinder store. It shall also consider the potential for impact due to vehicle movements.

Storage locations should be sited at ground level. Where cylinders are stored at any other level this shall be specifically covered in the risk assessment. If the store is located at another level then consideration needs to be given to providing an area to allow vehicles to collect and deliver cylinders, cylinder movements between levels and the impact in the event of an incident, for example, gas leakage, fire, access for emergency services, proximity to people, etc.

The risk assessment shall take account of both underground and overground services. The location shall be chosen so that it is not directly beneath overhead power or other cables and where it will allow access for vehicles and other plant machinery without the risk of them coming into contact with power or other cables.

Each storage area and its boundaries shall be well defined. The footprint of the store shall allow space for the expected quantity of gas cylinders being stored as well as for the safe movement and handling of the gas cylinders, including access for mechanical handling equipment.

Appropriate access to the site will be required. This will include access for delivery vehicles and the emergency services.

The location of the storage area should consider the security of cylinders to avoid theft and to prevent tampering with the cylinders.

Storage Area Layout and Separation Distances

The physical dimensions of the storage area shall take into account the storage requirements, for example, grouping by hazard classification, full/empty or unserviceable cylinders and providing adequate space for access and egress, for safe manual handling operations and the use of mechanical handling equipment.

Means shall be provided to secure cylinders to prevent them from falling over, for example, pallets, chains, lashing, etc.

Minimum Recommended Separation Distances

Appendix 2 shows the minimum recommended separation distances between cylinders, the store(s) and other features.

Where there are space restraints a permanent physical partition may be used to help achieve the required minimum recommended separation distances. The height of the partition should be relevant to the hazard, however, it should be not less than 2 meters high, unless for non-fire hazards a lower partition can be justified through risk assessment. The required minimum recommended separation distance can include the length of the sides of the partition, as shown in Figure 1. Such partitions should be imperforate and constructed of suitable materials, for example, solid masonry or concrete. Where protecting against fire hazards, they should be constructed to achieve at least 30 minutes’ fire-resistance for best practices in gas cylinder storage.

Correct Seperaration Distances

Where the wall separates vulnerable populations from the cylinders (not including inert gases), the fire resistance provided should be a minimum of 60 minutes.

Figure 1: Use of a partition to achieve the minimum recommended separation distances

Within Figure 1 the minimum recommended separation distances may include the distance measured around the sides of the partition by determining the sum of A + B + C.

If flammable gas cylinders are stored against a building wall the area up to 2 m either side of the storage area and up to 9 m above ground should be imperforate and of a minimum of 30 minutes fire resisting construction.

When planning the gas cylinder storage facility, adequate handling space shall be allowed. The total amount of floor space required will depend on the quantity and the size of the cylinders, and the handling equipment to be used during their movement. Refer to Section 6 and Section 8.

Floor

The floor should be level and constructed from non-combustible, non-porous material. All floor surfaces shall be constructed so that they can be maintained in a clean manner.

Obstacles such as expansion joints, steps, and drainage systems, shall not impede cylinder handling operations.

The floor shall be of sufficient strength to support the weight of the gas cylinders/gas cylinder pallets, plus any mechanical handling aids employed on gas cylinder handling.

The floor should be laid to prevent the accumulation of water so that stored cylinders do not rest in standing water and risk being subjected to corrosion.

Roof

Cylinders are designed for outdoor storage, however, some applications require protected storage conditions for quality, hygiene and security reasons, for example, analytical and medical gases. Cylinders may also need additional protection from local environmental conditions.

Where required, the roofing shall be designed to prevent gas pockets from accumulating, for example, gaps between the wall and sloping roof, natural ventilation in the roof apex etc.

General Security

All stores containing gas cylinders shall be secure and access shall be restricted to authorized personnel. This may be achieved by securing the site with a boundary fence with lockable gates or by securing individual stores. Dependant on the site security requirements both conditions may be required.

Suitable security arrangements shall take into account the classification of the gases and the quantities being stored. The security arrangements shall include appropriate physical and management security controls to prevent unauthorized access, theft, tampering, arson, vandalism and to effectively monitor the usage of gases, as well as any specific local considerations. Keys for each store shall be kept in a secure location and only issued to authorized persons; a log should be kept.

Where electronic security systems, for example, alarms, are installed comply with the electrical requirements on site.

The security perimeter shall meet the ventilation requirements and be not less than 1.8 meters high.

Where the gas cylinder store is enclosed, a suitable emergency exit(s) may be required dependant on the size and/or layout of the store.

All persons handling gas cylinders shall have appropriate training, as required.

Where high consequence dangerous goods, such as toxic gases, are stored on site a security plan shall be drawn up and implemented in compliance with the Health & Safety department.

Ventilation

Ventilation is required to ensure that any small leakage of gas is adequately dispersed and will prevent a hazardous atmosphere being created. An outdoor store with open or ventilated sides and is considered to provide adequate ventilation and is the preferred option.

Where a store may have restricted ventilation, due to, for example, adjacent buildings or a wall acting as a store boundary, it is necessary to ensure that there is through and thorough ventilation in all areas inside the store.

A semi-enclosed store may be considered ‘outdoors’ if it consists of up to three adjacent solid sides, with a roof, provided at least 25 % of the perimeter is constructed to ensure that ventilation is not impaired, for example, meshed cladding.

Where the configuration of the store restricts air flow, the installation of high and low-level vents should be considered to ensure a regular change of air. The design of a roof shall meet the ventilation requirements. Minimum recommended separation distances should be considered when locating vents.

A store with less than 25 % of the perimeter open is to be considered an indoor store.

Examples of store design are displayed below.

If a store is located against a building wall, then the risk assessment shall take account of the likelihood of escaped gas entering the building, and the method of entry, for example, an overhanging roof, cellars, windows, air intakes, etc.

Gas Cylinders Storage

Access

Gas Cylinder Cage

The storage area should be located so that it is readily accessible for cylinder movements with manual handling distances kept to a minimum and clear access maintained at all times for deliveries and the emergency services.

Access to the delivery and storage area(s) is to be kept clear, with no parking allowed, except for the loading and unloading of cylinders. No vehicles are to be allowed within the minimum recommended separation distance.

Aisles should be provided to allow safe access to cylinders, to facilitate good housekeeping, stock control and for the ease of handling. They should be a minimum of 1 metre wide.

The layout of the storage area should allow for the safe movement of gas cylinder handling trolleys, forklift trucks, and any other powered vehicles. The layout shall take account of the separation of personnel and vehicles with appropriate traffic routes defined.

Where the gas cylinder store is enclosed suitable access and egress shall be provided. The risk assessment (refer to Section 5.1) shall determine the maximum travel distance to enable escape and therefore identify the number of exits required.

Where installed, all designated emergency exits shall open in the direction of escape and shall be fitted with panic furniture of a type not requiring a key, card, or code to open. They are to provide an unobstructed means of escape and in operation shall not obstruct any other escape route. These exits shall be properly identified by signage and maintained in a serviceable condition at all times. Ensure that emergency exits are secure and cannot be opened from the external side of the store (whilst still allowing emergency escape from the inside of the store).

Lighting

The area should have adequate lighting to assist in providing a safe work environment, to allow the identification of the cylinder contents, signage and where necessary to assist with security. Where artificial lighting is used it shall give suitable colour rendering to enable colour labelling to be easily recognised by persons with normal colour vision.

Where required, emergency lighting shall be to the requirements of BS 5266 (28).

Electrical Equipment

Only electrical equipment that is necessary for the safe and practical operation of the gas cylinder store shall be installed. As a minimum, all electrical installations shall conform to BS 7671 (31), Requirements for electrical installations. IET wiring regulations. Where flammable or oxidising gases are stored the risk assessment (refer to Section 5.1) is to determine whether protected electrical equipment is required, if so refer to BS EN 60079, Part 14 (33), Explosive atmospheres. Electrical installations, design, selection, and erection.

Fire Safety Requirements

A responsible person shall carry out a Fire Safety Risk Assessment on all gas cylinder storage areas to determine the hazard and the risk associated with a fire originating from a gas cylinder and/or a fire impacting on a gas cylinder(s). The findings from which are to be incorporated into the Site Fire Safety Management Plan that is to be implemented and maintained. As necessary, advice should be sought from the Fire and Rescue Service. The risk control measures identified shall be incorporated into the construction of the gas cylinder store(s).

The location of each gas cylinder store shall be recorded within the site’s hazardous locations record. This record should include information on the products stored, their maximum quantities and their hazardous classification. This should be updated on a regular basis. This is to be made available to the emergency services in the event of an incident.

Training

Training Presentation

All personnel who are required to handle and store gas cylinders shall receive suitable information and instruction regarding the hazards associated with gas cylinders and the gases being stored, and provided with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out their job safely.

It is the duty of the employer to ensure their persons are adequately trained and to establish competency. It is recommended that a training programme is carried out under a formalised system where an acceptable level of competency has to be achieved. Records shall be kept of the training provided and the competence level achieved. The training programme shall make provision for periodic re-training.

Training should be reviewed and/or updated following:

  • A related accident or incident.
  • The receipt of gases which have not previously been used on site.
  • Change to guidance or information previously provided.
  • The appointment of new and/or transferred employees.

All persons engaged in the storage of gas cylinders shall have training commensurate with their responsibilities and should include, but not confined to the below subjects.

  • Identification of the cylinder and its contents.
  • Properties and hazards of gases, including pressure.
  • Cylinder and valve types.
  • Movement of cylinders, including local carriage.
  • Stock management.
  • Store management.
  • Actions to be taken in an emergency situation.

Specific training and certification requirements are required for persons handling fluorinated gases.

If you require further help from the team at Chemstore then get in touch with one of our sales engineers today!

Flammable Material Storage – Eliminating the Risk

Eliminating the Risk – Handling & Flammable Material Storage

flammable symbol risk

Flammable materials are substances that can ignite easily and burn rapidly. They can be common materials that are at most work sites in gas, liquid and solid forms. Proper flammable material storage needs to be followed to avoid an accident in the workplace. Some flammable materials which pose a risk include:

Gases — Natural gas, propane, butane, methane, acetylene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide. Flammable gases usually have with a lower explosive limit of less than 13% in the air or have a flammable range in air of at least 12%. For example, butane is a flammable gas because its lower explosive limit in the air is 20%. Carbon monoxide has a lower explosive limit of 13% and an upper explosive limit of 74% in air, it is flammable over a range of 61%.

Liquids —  Many solvents such as acetone, alcohols and toluene, paints and paint thinners, adhesives, degreasers, cleaners, waxes and polishes. Flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 37.8⁰C (100⁰ F).

Solids — Some types of coal, pyrophoric metals (metals that burn in contact with air or water, such as sodium and potassium) solid wastes that are soaked with flammable liquids (rags, paper, spill clean-up products) and matches.

To read more about our best-in-class flammable materials storage, read up on our Fireavault range here.

How Do Fires Occur

For a fire to occur, three elements must come together at the same time and in the right proportions, fuel, heat (ignition source) and oxygen. Remove any of the elements and the fire will go out.

The “fire triangle” is commonly used as a model to understand how a fire starts and how it can be prevented.

Fuel — Fuels are flammable or combustible materials and can be gases, liquids or solids.

Heat — These are ignition sources and include an open flame, lit cigarette and sparks (such as from electrical current and static electricity shorts). A chemical reaction that creates heat can also ignite a fuel and oxygen mixture.

Oxygen — The most common source of oxygen is air, but oxygen can also come from chemicals called oxidizers. Examples of common oxidizers are some types of acids and chemicals such as chlorine, chlorine dioxide, potassium permanganate and potassium chlorate.

Fire Triangle Combustion Triangle Diagram

The spread of fire is also dependant on a fourth factor, the chemical chain reactions that occur after the fire is started. Fire prevention consists of making sure that the three legs of the fire triangle never meet. It is important to note that a fire will not always start even when the legs of the triangle meet unless all three elements are present in the right amounts. For example, vapours from a flammable liquid must be mixed with a certain amount of air and exposed to the right amount of heat to ignite and burn. Once vapours from a flammable liquid have ignited, the flames may “flash-back”. This means the flames travel back, through the vapour air mixture, to the container or source of the flammable liquid. This can create an explosion. Most flammable liquids produce vapours that are heavier than air. Some flammable gases are also heavier than air. These gases and vapours can spread a considerable distance along the ground or floor and be ignited by a distant spark or flame or source of heat. Certain chemicals such as organic peroxides (e.g. benzoyl peroxide) contain both fuel and oxygen.

Work Procedures and Training

The employer must develop work procedures for the use and storage of flammable materials and ensure workers are trained on these procedures. Because of the potential fire hazard, the employer will also need to have additional procedures in place to deal with fires and spills.

Work procedures should address:

Training Presentation
  • Storage
  • Dispensing
  • Spill clean up
  • Incompatible materials
  • Use and maintenance of engineering controls used in the workplace (such as ventilation)
  • Required personal protective equipment for handling flammable products
  • Fire protection and prevention

Storage of Flammable Materials

In general, flammable materials must not be stored near exits, electrical equipment or heating equipment. They should always be stored in a separate, well-ventilated storage area, away from potential sources of ignition. If the material is removed from its original container, it must be placed into a container that is appropriate for flammable materials.

Portable Storage Containers for Flammable Liquids

When flammable liquids are transferred from their original container (one they were purchased in), or from bulk storage such as a drum or tank, the proper type of portable container must be used. Containers that are approved for the use and storage of “portable quantities” are usually made of metal or plastic, are vapour-proof and have:

flammable material storage cabinet Q90
  • Welded seams.
  • Spark or flame arrestors.
  • Pressure release valves or spring closing lids with spout covers.

Portable containers must be properly labelled. The labelling should include the following information:

  • Container contents
  • The contents are flammable
  • The container should be kept away from ignition sources (heat, spark, open flames)
  • The container should be kept closed when not in use
  • A reference to the “SDS” material safety data sheet for the product.

Storage Cabinets

flammable material storage cabinet under desk

When individual containers of flammable liquids are not in use and are stored inside a building, they should be stored in a storage cabinet. The European Standard EN 14470-1 was implemented in April 2004 and has since been published as a national standard in many European countries as the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Spain, UK, Italy etc.

Since the 1st of January 2005, the former German Standard DIN 12925-1 can no longer be taken into consideration for testing Safety Storage Cabinets.

Test and construction requirements, compared to the DIN 12925-1, have become stricter and in some details stated more precisely. The following points describe the basics and main safety, test and construction requirements.

The range of applications

– The standard specifies the performance required of the design and fire resistance of safety storage cabinets used for storing flammable liquids in working areas.

The principal safety requirements

– Minimisation of the fire risk associated with the storage of flammable materials.

– Protection of the contents of the cabinet in the event of a fire for a known (and tested) period of time.

– Minimisation of the fumes released to the working environment.

– Retention of any possible leakage within the cabinet.

– Provision of enough time, in the event of a fire, for personnel to leave the room,

and sufficient time for fire service personnel to enter the building before the

stored materials turn a small fire into an uncontrollable blaze.

Fire protection

– In the event of a fire the cabinet must ensure that, over a period of time defined by the manufacturer (but in any event at least 15 minutes), its contents do not present an additional risk that the fire will spread.

 Doors

– The cabinet doors must close entirely, starting from any position (closing time max. 20 seconds).

– Immobilising equipment fitted must release the locked doors at a temperature of 50 (-10) °C.

– Avoiding the risk of injury: the closing force of the doors must not exceed 100 N.

– One-handed operation must be possible, and the doors must close entirely even if open and locked.

Side and rear walls

– The side and rear walls of the cabinet must have the same thickness and comparable structures.

Air inlet and outlet openings

– The cabinets must have openings for air inlet and outlet (for connection of the cabinet to an exhaust system).

– The ventilation openings must close automatically at a temperature of 70 °C.

flammable material storage cabinet long

Storage locations (shelves or drawers)

– Storage surfaces must be able to support the loading specified by the manufacturer throughout the test in the furnace. Design evidence of the load-carrying capacity of shelves and drawers in the event of fire based on EN 1365 (fire resistance tests for self-supporting components).

Spill containment sump

– The spill containment sump must retain its ability to function after the fire resistance test. This is to be checked visually by filling the spill containment sump with water

Fire resistance

– Must be investigated by tests on a design sample.

– The fire-resistant cabinet is exposed to flames in a suitable furnace.

– The doors, walls and ceiling of the cabinet being tested must be exposed to the same heating conditions.

– Cabinets must be tested as free-standing single cabinets. The example being tested must be positioned with its rear wall at least 100 mm from the furnace wall.

– The flame exposure is carried out under the standard temperature curve of BS EN 1363-1.

– The temperature rise is measured inside the cabinet.

– The cabinet must then be classed as type 15, 30, 60 or 90, according to the time that has elapsed before the temperature rose by 180K.

Large Fire Rated Store – Firevault

At some work sites, there are many different types of flammable materials or large volumes of particular materials used. At these sites, flammable materials may be stored in large containers (drums or tanks) or there may be a specific flammable material storage room. The specific requirements for above ground storage tanks and storage rooms is HSg51.

flammable material storage firevault

In general:

  • Do not store other types of chemicals beside bulk storage containers for flammable materials or in storage rooms for these products.
  • Bulk storage containers should be located away from potential ignition sources such as heat, sparks or open flames.
  • Do not store compressed gases beside flammable material containers.
  • Bulk storage areas should be equipped with spill protection.
  • Bulk storage areas and rooms must have appropriate signage or placards.
  • Smoking should never be allowed near flammable material storage areas.
  • Drums or large containers of flammable materials should never be stored beside exits or in a way that blocks access.
  • Make sure that storage rooms have properly designed ventilation systems that are regularly maintained.
  • Minimum separation distances from the occupied building, boundary, process unit, flammable liquid storage tank or ignition source (metres) Fig 1.
Quantity Stored (L) Distance (M)
Up to 1,0002
1,000 to 100,0004
Above 100,000 7.5

Handling Flammable Materials

flammable risk barrel

To prevent fires, flammable materials must be properly managed in the workplace. There are three main ways to prevent fires:

Limit the amounts of flammable and combustible materials

  • Keep only what you need on-site
  • Purchase materials in the smallest volumes necessary
  • At work locations, keep only those chemicals that are needed for the present task
  • Do not let hazardous wastes accumulate at the worksite
  • Store products, including wastes, used at the worksite in proper containers
  • Keep flammable materials separate from other processes and storage areas

Provide proper ventilation to ensure flammable vapours do not accumulate

  • Install properly designed ventilation in the storage area
  • Ensure that processes that use or make flammable materials do not exhaust back in the work site
  • Ensure that equipment, such as spray booths, where flammable materials are used, is exhausted outside of the building, and away from air intakes
  • Ventilation systems must be properly maintained and comply with local regulations

Control ignition sources

Danger flammable liquids risk
  • Ground and bond all work and ignition-proof equipment
  • Ensure that there is no smoking in work areas where flammable materials are stored or used
  • Never store flammable materials near hot equipment or open flames
  • Use intrinsically safe and non-sparking tools It is important for the employer to assess the worksite and identify potential fire hazards. This will allow the employer to identify the best ways to control these hazards.

Static Electricity

Static electricity is an electric charge that cannot move. It is created when two objects or materials that are in contact with each other are separated. While the objects are in contact, the surface electricity charges try to balance each other. When the objects are separated, they are left with either an excess or shortage of electrons, causing them both to become electrically charged. If these charges do not have a path to the ground, they are unable to move and becomes “static”. If static electricity is not quickly removed, the charge will build up. Eventually, it will develop enough energy to jump as a spark to some nearby less highly charged object. In an explosive or flammable atmosphere, the spark can set off an explosion or fire. The danger is greatest when flammable liquids are being poured or transferred.

Static electricity can be produced by:

Static electricity fire hazard
  • Non-polar liquid flowing through a pipe or hose (e.g. hydrocarbons)
  • Spraying
  • Blending or mixing
  • Filling containers or tanks
  • Movement (and friction) between materials
  • Movement of dry powdered material through chutes or conveyors
  • Movement of non-conductive conveyor belts or drive belts
  • Appliances that are plugged into electrical outlets
  • Flipping a light switch on or off

Static electricity can be controlled by:

  • Bonding and grounding
  • Humidification
  • Static collectors
  • Additives

Bonding and grounding are techniques that are used to prevent sparks (a source of ignition) from being created when liquids are transferred between containers. Bonding is when there is an electrical connection between two or more conductive containers. Bonding ensures that the containers have the same electrical charge. Without a difference in charge, a spark cannot be created that jumps from one container to another. Bonding does not eliminate the static charge which is why it is used in combination with grounding. A container is grounded when there is an electrical connection between the container and the earth. Grounding quickly drains the static charge away.

If you have any questions about our Firevault range or flameproof cabinets, get in touch today by calling, emailing or using the Live Chat feature on the bottom left corner of your screen.


Organic Peroxide Storage

Organic Peroxides

Organic Peroxides are unstable chemical compounds which decompose at relatively low temperatures. With the correct precautions taken they can be stored safely. The prevention of undesired decomposition reactions during storage requires knowledge of the peroxide and its general properties. Personnel who have been trained and understand organic peroxide storage will be able to handle the chemical safely.

There are two important factors when storing organic peroxide

  1. Minimisation of peroxide decomposition.
  2. Reducing the effects of such a decomposition.

The following is a guideline to minimise the probability of a peroxide decomposition by limiting the heat exposure of the product and preventing contamination.

Recommendations will be given below as well as specific measures for temperature-controlled products. These recommendations are based on Chemstore’s experience and knowledge. There are also insurance and local regulations which must be taken into consideration in the design and construction of storage units.

chemical fire

Safety Aspects

Organic peroxide is thermally unstable due to the weak bond in the molecular structure. As a result, organic peroxides are heat sensitive and will decompose significantly above a certain temperature. This temperature is specific to each individual peroxide.

During its decomposition heat is released and the rate of its decomposition increases with temperature. If this heat cannot be transferred to the environment due to a reduced surface area from stacking or high ambient temperatures, self-heating will accelerate and lead to violent combustion or thermal explosion.

Every peroxide has a temperature at which the self-heating accelerates. This temperature is designated as the SADT – Self Accelerating Decomposition Temperature. At or above this temperature a reaction will take place. Due to this, temperature control and high-temperature alarms are required for storage.

Peroxide Storage

organic peroxide storage

A number of organic peroxides can be safely stored at ambient temperature, most require some form of temperature control. The maximum temperature allowed by regulatory agencies is the control temperature Tc⁰ this temperature together with the emergency temperature (Tem see temperature control and monitoring on this page) are from the SADT as follows:

peroxide storage optimum tempature

However, for longer shelf life, lower temperatures than the control temperatures are generally recommended. At this recommended storage temperature (Ts) as indicated on the product label, the product will be stable and quality loss will be minimal.

As each organic peroxide has its own specific storage temperature, consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

The temperature must be maintained at or below the recommended storage temperature, refer to the SDS or product data-sheet.

Organic peroxides must be protected from direct sunlight and all other sources of heat.

Specific attention should be given to

  • Windows or clear lite roof panels (not recommended)
  • Heating systems (radiators, warm water pipes etc).

Cooled storage rooms should be provided with at least two independent temperature alarms. An alarm is recommended when the storage temperature is exceeded by 5⁰C.  If this is the case the store should be inspected. The temperature alarm should incorporate a delay device to allow for intermittent short temperature increase which results from inspection, loading and unloading. Any possibility of alarm de-activation should be countered with an automatic alarm re-activation.

Non-cooled storage rooms should be provided with an alarm set at the emergency temperature but not higher than 45⁰C. it is important that a signal from the mentioned alarm system should not escape notice at any time including nights, weekends, etc. and that appropriately trained personnel are alerted. There should be a dual power supply for the alarm system.

Guidelines for Peroxide Storage Buildings

storage container for peroxide storage

The floor should be seamless, easy to clean and made from a non-combustible and non-absorbent material. A slight slope is recommended. This will direct liquids and allow for easier cleanup. Extreme caution must be taken when collecting this liquid to prevent trapping of organic peroxides. As fire fighting water may carry peroxide, it should be directed into a sump area underneath the floor with a provision for emptying.

Drainage systems should not be in direct contact with the site sewer system to allow control of the peroxide. Fire fighting water can carry burning peroxide with it as it drains away. Observe local regulations with respect to the containment of fire fighting water.

A storage building should be adequately provided with lightning protection. The colour of the store  externally should be light in colour. Construction materials should be compatible with organic peroxides or coated to prevent contamination.

Ventilation openings should be covered with grilles and be at least 1% of the walled area.

Placement of organic peroxide stores with respect to essential equipment or services, buildings, roadways, waterways etc. must be considered. There is no definitive distance stated but typically a distance of 10m for the storage of 1 ton and 20m for the storage of 20 ton of organic peroxide. Local regulations must also be considered.

Walls, roof and door(s) should be insulated. The insulating material should be non-flammable or flame-retardant. To avoid absorption of moisture and to retain the insulating properties, non-absorbent material (closed cell structure) should be used.

The material should be resistant to solvents used in the products to be stored. If the insulating material is not solvent resistant it should be covered with cladding material.

Any equipment including the cooling unit that may generate heat or sparks should be located outside the storage building, away from the entrance so as to reduce the electrical requirements. Any electrical equipment having direct contact with the inside air should be explosion-proof.

Moving parts and openings should be protected from becoming icebound by atmospheric moisture. In contrast to non-cooled storage, there should be no ventilation openings in the door or walls. If fresh air ventilation is required, the following items should be considered.

  • The replacement rate should be minimised.
  • The outside air intake must not be allowed to warm up the stored peroxides.
  • If a sprinkler system is required it should be a dry type system.

If you would like to speak to a Chemstore sales engineer get in touch here.

how to handle peroxides
The Dangers of Hot Works in HazMat Environments

Introduction: Hot Works

After a recent incident, the HSA has issued a safety alert, a person who carried out hot works on empty hazardous waste containers was killed due to residue being present in the container. The operator had been using an oxy/propane torch to cut up the tank. It exploded with such force that one end of the tank flew over a fence and into the premises next door. This tragedy has accelerated the need for ensuring best practices for carrying out hot works in zoned areas where hazardous materials are stored.

The aim of this article is to portray the importance of employing best practice when carrying out hot works in an environment where hazardous materials are present.

Statistics on hot works

Read more about fire risks at Health & Safety Association here.

Materials Which Can Cause Fire & Explosion:

Flammable liquids and vapours such as petrol, diesel, fuel oil, paints, solvents, glue lacquer and cleaning agents all can leave residue in the container in which they are stored.

Hot work can be defined as a process that involves welding, soldering, brazing, cutting, grinding, drilling and burning or melting metals or other substances such as glass. Use of open flame in the furnace or sparks or such ignition tools are considered hot work procedures. These types of work are fire hazards when flammable material is present or not. Hot work procedures require a hot work permit from the safety department of the factory or the establishment before the workers begin, (safeopedia).

Hot Work Permit:

In accordance with University of Limerick guidelines emphasis and responsibility lies with the employer when obtaining a hot work permit. Employers should ensure that the area in the immediate vicinity of the hot work is fully secure.

In particular, you should ensure that:

  • Before starting hot work, an area within at least 10m of the hot work process is cleared of all loose combustible material and if work is to take place on one side of a wall or partition the opposite side is examined to ensure no combustible material will be ignited by conducted heat.
  • Where combustible materials cannot be removed from the area, they are completely protected by non-combustible screens or blankets.  Flammable liquids must always be removed from the area. It is crucial the hazardous materials are stored in the appropriate manner and in the designated stores to remove the threat of combustion. This is where our new software Chemstore Connect allows for the seamless management of hazardous materials on site.
  • Combustible floors are covered with overlapping sheets of non-combustible material.
  • That the floor is swept clean of combustible materials.
  • That all wall and floor openings, and all gaps in walls and floors through which sparks could pass are covered with sheets of non-combustible material. This is where Chemstore ensures all our fire rated walls are designed and certified from one to four hours depending on the legislation associated with the chemical in question on site.
  • Good ventilation is provided in all areas where hot work is being carried out.
  • Where work is above floor level, that non-combustible material is suspended beneath the work to collect sparks.
hot works safety permit

Measures Can Be Taken to Reduce Hot Work Risks

Risk Assessment

Before carrying out this procedure a risk assessment must be carried out. Employers are legally required to access the risks in the workplace and  must carry out an assessment of the risks. Safe options should be considered such as should containers be replaced rather than being repaired or using cold cutting or cold repair techniques. If hot works are necessary, the risks should be avoided by using a specialist company or reduced by using methods such as gas-freeing, cleaning or inerting.  A common pain for Environmental Health & Safety Officers is the inability to create a risk assessment report. Chemstore has designed a software called Chempli which offers our clients access to a seamless software platform where a risk assessment report can be created while on-site by using a handheld device such as a tablet.

Training

All hot work supervisors and operators must receive hot work training. The training must include the safe practices for hot work, required personal protection equipment and fire extinguishing use. Drums, barrels, tanks or other containers should not be exposed to hot works unless absolutely necessary and the person involved has had adequate training in the risks involved and the precautions to be taken. Best practices as per the ISO 9001:2015 is to efficiently manage the required training for each employee for risks eg. manual handling. The HR & Training module which can be used on Chempli enables the user to identify staff training requirements through the use of an online training matrix

Preparation

The preparation of a tank should be considered as a part of the risk assessment. The appropriate control measures need to be identified and addressed.

Isolation

It is a requirement that tanks must be isolated from other equipment. This can be done by removing pipe sections. If possible disconnect small tanks and then transfer them to a safe environment.

Empty

Emptying the tank or drum should be emptied by pumping or draining the liquid into a designated container. The residue should then be disposed of in accordance with the environmental requirements.

hot works

Cleaning

Cleaning will be necessary in most cases. There are numerous ways to do so:

  • Washing or jetting using water or detergent solutions
  • Steam cleaning
  • Solvent washing/jetting

Gas-Freeing

Vapours and other volatile material can be removed by blowing air through the tank a method known as gas-freeing. The vapour concentration should be monitored using a gas detector. Gas-freeing on its own is rarely adequate as most containers will still contain residues. A gas detector may not detect these residues and may still be flammable when coming in contact with hot works.

Inspection

Attempting to inspect the inside of a storage container can be an extremely difficult process. Mirrors and torches can be used but any light that is used must be flameproof.

Inerting

Another way to reduce the risk is to fill the storage container with water or an inert gas such as nitrogen. This can be useful although the tank must be cleaned as much as possible beforehand, (HSE.gov).

Chemstore Compliance Chempli

Over the last eighteen months, Chemstore has been developing a new and innovative software which we are now proud to introduce Chemstore Compliance. This software is designed to aid Environmental Health & Safety Officers in the management and control of their organisation’s hazardous materials; improving compliance, lowering costs and reducing risk. This user-friendly software is equipped with a suite of modules. The six modules offered include a Document Library, Inventory Management, Risk Management, Site Map, HR & Training and an Inspection & Maintenance module. These modules are designed to provide an organisation with a cost-effective management system, control and workflow functionality.

Each Chemstore unit is allocated a QR Code which can be scanned remotely through mobile devices. This then allows the user to access all information associated with the Chemstore unit on Chempli instantly.

To speak with a Chemstore sales engineer you can get in touch here.

The Importance of ATEX Equipment

The explosion and fire in a large multinational waste management company in Antwerp in February 2016 reminds us of the importance of ATEX equipment and regulations. The incident occurred in a bunker where highly flammable liquid wastes had been stored in tanks, IBCs, drums and containers. Extensive damage was caused to the waste management facility. It was extremely fortunate that there were no fatalities.

Incidents such as this reinforces the importance of ATEX equipment in these highly explosive environments.

 

 

ATEX Regulations

 

The ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU covers equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres.

National authorities are responsible for implementing the Directive in the EU by transposing its provisions into their legislation. As a result, EU countries and others who apply the Directive’s requirements are responsible for implementation and enforcement, as well as the management of notified bodies.

Under the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU ATEX regulated equipment includes:

  • Light switches
  • Torches
  • Electrical Motors
  • Phones
  • Fans
  • Plugs and socket outlets
  • Rotary Valves
  • Fork Lifts
  • Mechanical breaks & gears

 

ATEX Background

 

Explosive atmospheres can be caused by a mixture of air and flammable substances such as gas, vapour, dust fibres or flying’s all under atmospheric conditions. If there is enough of the substance mixed with air a source of ignition is all that is required to cause an explosion. ATEX does not apply to oxygen enriched atmospheres and pressurised environments.

Preventing releases of dangerous substances and sources of ignition are crucial. By using the correct equipment this aides in eliminating the risk.

 

DSEAR

 

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 puts emphasis on employers to eliminate the control of risk from explosive atmospheres in the workplace.

In DSEAR an explosive atmosphere is defined as a mixture of dangerous substances with air, under atmospheric conditions, in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.

Atmospheric conditions are commonly referred to as ambient temperatures and pressures. That is to say temperatures of –20°C to 40°C and pressures of 0.8 to 1.1 bar. hse.gov

Employers must classify areas where the hazardous explosive atmospheres may occur. The classification given to a zone depends on the likelihood of an explosion occurring in that particular area.

Areas that are classed into zones it is crucial they are protected from sources of ignition. This is where the equipment and protective systems used should be carefully selected to meet the Equipment and Protective Systems Intended for Use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 1996.

The legal requirements as an employer – Risk Assessment

  • Identify work area where the hazardous materials are used stored and handled.
  • Are potential substances used, stored and or generated?
  • Can the hazardous materials be released?
  • Can this release result in an explosive atmosphere?
  • Are there sources of ignition present?
  • Determine the impact of fire or explosion.
  • Conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards.
  • Classify the work area in to zones based on the likelihood of explosion.

 

Equipment and protective systems intended for use in explosive atmospheres

 

Areas that are identified as explosive atmospheres must be marked with a specified EX sign. Protective anti-static clothing must be provided by the employer that doesn’t have an electrostatic discharge which could ignite the explosive atmosphere.

The Directive 94/9/EC allows the free trade of ATEX protective systems and equipment with the European Union by removing the need for separate testing and administration for each Member State.

Please see link below to video to see what can happen without adequate ATEX Protection

 

 

Simple Steps that can be taken:

  1. What chemicals are in the workplace?
  2. Carry out a risk assessment before you start work.
  3. Take measures to eliminate possible ignition sources.
  4. Have the appropriate personal protective equipment: spark-free tools, antistatic footwear, etc.
  5. Use an oxygen/explosive meter before, during, and after work.
  6. Have adequate fire extinguishing equipment.

For more information on ATEX regulation you can contact us by clicking here

 

 

 

Court Orders 1.6 million Pay-Outs for Historic Spill

Following a large fine and huge clean-up costs, a dry-cleaning business in Ontario, United States were taught an expensive lesson on environmental protection and compliance following a chemical spill.  The following article will investigate exactly what happened and the lessons that need to be learned going forward for companies.

Ontario Superior Court in March instructed the corporation responsible for the spill of dry cleaning solvents from 1960-1974 to pay compensation $1,632,500 for remediation costs and $201,700 for expert costs. (Huang V Fraser Hillary’s Limited) The court ruled Huang V Fraser Hillary’s Limited (Dry Cleaners adjacent to Mr Huang’s properties) guilty of the spill of dry cleaning solvents which resulted in the damage of neighbouring property.

Mr Huang after learning of the contamination of soils and groundwater in the surrounding area of his two properties, decided to take legal action. Tetrachloroethylene & Trichloroethylenewere the substances identified to have caused this contamination.

The court found that for fourteen years these substances were allowed to seep into the ground through dry cleaning filters and the dry cleaning sump in the basement. Also, the chemicals in question were stored in cardboard boxes at the rear of the property and would remain there until the weekly garbage collection. It was also found that the dry cleaners took no steps to solve this problem. In 1974 Fraser Hillary’s Limited installed new dry cleaning machines. The modern technology in these machines resulted in the elimination for potential spills.

 

Spill Contamination

In 2002, it came to Mr Huang’s attention that his properties had suffered substantial damage. Through an environmental consulting firm Mr Huang ordered a site assessment of one of Fraser Hillary’s Limited properties which he was contemplating on buying. The assessment found moderate to high levels of contaminants.

When testifying Mr Huang claimed that because of the contamination his bank refused to provide him with the required funds and refusal to renew his existing mortgage. Also, he added that due to the damages he was unable to develop the properties in question in their present condition and once the issues are addressed he intends to proceed with development plans.

 

Description of chemicals

Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) & Trichloroethylene (TCE): Both colourless liquid substances which are highly volatile and toxic. The substance is hazardous to the aquatic environment. Both have a risk of explosion when in contact with other chemicals such as alkali metals, aluminium and alkali hydroxide. The main intake pathways for are via the respiratory tract and through the skin.

 

PCE Challenge Spill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Hazardous Material Management)

 

Decision of the court

“Section 99 of the Ontario Environmental Protection Act provides for a civil cause of action between private parties, allowing recovery of any loss or damage incurred as a result of, among other things, the spill of a pollutant, from the owner of the pollutant and the person having control of the pollutant. Both the “owner of the pollutant” and the “person having control of the pollutant” are defined in relation to the time immediately before the first discharge of the pollutant”. (Ontario.ca)

 

Even though there was no existing statutory right to compensation for private individuals at the time during which the spills were occurring, the court held that recovery under section 99(2) was still possible because:

  • It was not clear that its application would constitute retroactivity.
  • The presumption against retrospective application is inapplicable where a provision is designed to protect the public.
  • Any presumption against retroactivity is rebutted in this case by the clear intention of the legislature.

The Court found that section 99(2) was intended to provide for compensation now any spill, not simply those that occur after the legislative provision came into effect, and consequently found the defendant corporation liable to the plaintiff as “the owner of the pollutant and the person having control of the pollutant” immediately before it was spilled. (Lexology)

 

The experts confirmed that the substances found in the ground water and soil were from dry cleaning solvents. The court awarded costs to Mr Huang that involved isolating the source of contamination with a permeable reactive barrier and treating Mr Huang’s properties with injections of zero valent iron over an eight to ten-year period.

 

zero-valent-iron-injection spill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Hazardous Material Management)

 

Recommendations

It is clear that Fraser Hillary’s Limited failed to monitor and inspect the environmental and structural integrity of their properties for an extended period of time. Several steps could have been taken to prevent such an incident.

 

Sump (Bund) Maintenance & Integrity Testing

Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have regularly been testing their sump system to make sure it was holding and draining the waste appropriately.

 

Filter Replacement/Servicing

Filters should have been regularly serviced and replaced when necessary. The appropriate storage units should have been present to house these highly hazardous materials.

 

Housekeeping/Facilities Management

It is imperative that all machinery used in a business is inspected and tested on an annual basis. This would prevent the environmental damage but also as a protocol for the safety and well being of the employees operating the machines daily.

As per the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

  • All rooms and equipment have to be cleaned regularly.
  • Use protective equipment while cleaning if necessary.
  • Only conduct maintenance and other work on or in the vessel or closed spaces after obtaining written permission.
  • Only work with vessels and lines after they have been thoroughly rinsed.

 

Risk Assessment

Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have used the following basic steps.

Identify the hazards: In this case Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have identified that the chemicals used on a day to day basis were hazardous. Therefor, should have had the appropriate measures in place to prevent these chemicals from being exposed to the environment.

Determine the level of the risk: Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have estimated how likely the hazard is to cause harm and what the harm is likely to be.

Decide on the control measures: in this case Fraser Hillary’s Limited should have had their sump system tested regularly and filters used should have been regularly serviced and replaced when necessary.(HSA.ie)

If you would like to get more information about how to avoid hazardous chemical spills then contact one of our sales engineers today.