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Electric Profiling Beds

Electric Profiling Beds (EPB) are one of the key pieces of equipment in hospitals, respite and care homes.  The base of the bed is sectioned so that the mattress can be adjusted to support the user in the sitting position and prevent them from slipping down the bed. The height can also be adjusted and all is controlled by a handset. However, many care institutions have the standard hydraulic type beds. These are foot operated via a pump. These beds are flat with a backrest. The EPB’s are more versatile; however both types of beds have their uses. EPBs can position and mobile patients in a specific way to aid recovery, to increase safety and for better manual handling. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) apply to both types of beds. Regulation 4 of these regulations require employers, where reasonably practical, to ensure that their employees do not undertake any unnecessary manual handling operations that may cause risk of injury or harm.  With regards to manual handling operations employers must make sufficient risk assessments to identify steps whereby the use of these machines brings the lowest possible occurrence of harm to the patient, operator and the public.

Electric profiling beds are very useful, in that they reduce the need for staff to manually adjust the backrests and bed height. EPBs lower the risk of injury. Patients can reposition themselves more independently and prevent falling down the bed which can cause associated pressure damage. There is a knee break to prevent patients slipping down the bed. EPBs reduce many patient handling tasks to the occupant, the environment and the operator. EPBs can have many indirect benefits, including improved lung function, improved cardiac output, improved gut mobility, reduced muscle wastage, whilst maintaining joint flexibility.

However, EPBs can pose issues. They are heavier than normal beds and cannot be moved so easily. Some hospitals use bed pullers to move them but this is an additional cost. Electrical problems may arise due to trailing cables, during cleaning or if the bed is moved whilst plugged in. Additional electrical infrastructure may be needed for EPBs. There is a risk of entrapment or crushing, particularly if a foot pedal is accidently pushed, which is used to raise and lower the bed. The care institution needs to take into account the patient’s vulnerability in addition to moving and handling operations. Safe measures can include disabling the foot controls so they cannot be accidently operated. Staff should be trained, so that when cleaning and making beds there will be no inadvertent engagement with the controls. If musculoskeletal injury is a risk from staff, it would be advisable to replace standard beds with profiling beds. This would be an extra cost but would be justified with regard to adhering to the manual handling laws.

EPS are not defined as lifting equipment according to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), however there are requirements under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). In compliance with PUWER, EPB’s must be safe for use, maintained, have protective devices and those who will use them should be trained in their instruction and use.

Sources    hse

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Controlling Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Workplace

At low concentrations carbon dioxide is harmless. It is in the air we breathe. At room temperature CO2 is a colourless, odourless gas and does not support combustion. CO2 is a by -product of living organisms i.e it is produced from humans and oxygen-using bacteria. The concentration in fresh air is about 350ppm. However, at elevated levels, CO2 can be harmful and cause dizziness, headaches and asphyxiation. CO2 can accumulate in work areas such as trenches and cellars, i.e. in any confined space. For CO2 to be dangerous to life, it must be elevated to levels of v/v 50%. It is a very common hazard encountered in confined spaces. According to the law, CO2 is classed as a substance hazardous to health and regulations in its safe use must be adhered to according to Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).  There are workplace exposure limits (WELs) for CO2; the HSE has set this as 5000 ppm for long term exposure and 15000 ppm for short term exposure. CO2 is considered a toxic hazard and so needs to be controlled. We need oxygen to breathe so when CO2 displaces oxygen there are then risks to health.

Carbon Dioxide has many domestic and commercial uses. It is used in the fermentation process of beer and wine making. It is also routinely used in the oil industry to decrease the viscosity and aid in the extraction of oil from fields. Dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) is used to refrigerate foods. The inhalation of elevated levels of CO2 can increase the acidity of the blood and cause adverse effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous systems. So, it is important that work areas are frequently monitored, especially confined spaces and the CO2 level controlled as set out in COSHH. Carbon Dioxide can also be a by-product of certain industries, for example, coal fired power stations which can produce up to 30 000 te/day of CO2. CO2 is a by-product from the energy, pipeline and chemical industries.

It is vital to contain and not allow the release of CO2 to become a hazard. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a low carbon technology that captures CO2 and transports it offshore for safe underground storage. CO2 is transported by pipeline or via tankers from the capture site to an offshore installation. The CO2 is then stored in a deep geological formation such as a saline aquifer, or a depleted gas or oil well. It is contained so it cannot leak out to the surrounding environment.

Eventhough carbon capture and storage needs to be regulated, it must be considered that it is an emerging process that is not specifically addressed by GB law. Even though CO2 is not listed as a dangerous substance under the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH), these regulations do apply to the CSS process chain. Other regulations that are applicable to the CSS process chain include the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996 (PSR) and the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 1995 (OSCR). As CSS is a relatively new process, there are no large scale projects operating. However, future CSS operators will need to comply with existing health and safety law to ensure the safe capture, transportation and storage of CO2 so that it is not harmful to workers in the immediate vicinity or to the public or the environment.

Sources    ohsonline    hse

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Mercury Alert

As of 26th February 2014, the HSE has issued a safety notice regarding the contamination of metallurgies by the presence of mercury. Mercury spills, its presence in crude oil and other related environments can cause Liquid Metal Embrittlement (LME). This is where susceptible metals become brittle and crack when they come in contact with mercury. If not controlled, this can be a major hazard in a processing plant. By weakening other metals within a processing plant, the environment may become contaminated and put the plant at risk. In 2004 a natural gas processing plant in South Australia suffered a major fire because of LME. Aluminum and copper are particularly susceptible to LME from mercury. Mercury is liquid at temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius and can contaminate crude oil to varying degrees. Because of this threat from mercury, operators of plants where it is suspected must operate COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazards) with full vigilance. In these environments, risk assessments should be carried out to control the threat of LME. COMAH processing plants must meet their responsibilities to control major accidents to people and the environment. COMAH regulations are enforced by the COMAH Competent Authority. The Competent Authority focuses on safety management within processes in controlling major hazards in the UK.

As well as being a hazard within processing plants, mercury poses health risks (from water soluble forms of mercury) and from inhalation of its vapor. Health risks include damage to the nervous system and kidneys. Steps can be taken to mitigate against mercury exposure. Vessels and pipe work where mercury may be present should be fitted with mercury flushing taps and meters which monitor the mercury level. Filters and drain popes should be checked for signs of mercury. Any spillage of mercury droplets should be collected with a vacuum which has a mercury vapour filter. Plant and machinery should be clearly labeled. As mercury can easily collect on surfaces it needs to be removed by adding sulphur or a commercial mercury cleansing kit. For workers in these kinds of environments, Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is necessary. For confined space work a breathing apparatus would be necessary. Disposable overalls and gloves should be used. Footwear includes rubber boots for ease of cleaning. The air flow of air-fed RPE should be checked before use. Biological monitoring should be carried out for workers who work in exposed mercury environments. The occupational exposure limit value for mercury is 0.02 mg/m3 (an 8 hour time weighted average). All personnel should be well trained in these working environments and waste should be disposed of appropriately.

On the legal side there are responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999.

 

Sources   hse    wikipedia

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Tower Crane Storage

A safety alert has recently been issued by the HSE on the 20th February 2014 regarding tower crane storage. It had been reported that three luffing jib tower cranes have collapsed in high winds. The HSE has made available supplementary guidance as part of the code of practice for the safe use of tower cranes. Luffing tower cranes are cranes that are designed to work near high buildings and in tight spaces. The ‘jib’ is the horizontal arm that extends from the slewing unit, this unit is the engine that sits at the top of the mast and enables the crane to rotate. A luffing crane has a hinged jib (as in photo above). This allows the hook of this crane to move up and down as the jib moves (or luffs). These cranes are advantageous to use in overlapping slewing areas as they don’t require a huge amount of space.

As regards safety in the storage of ‘out of service’ tower cranes, the slew brake must be on and the jib at the correct out of service radius. If the brake is engaged and the jib not at the correct angle, very windy positions could cause the crane to move and swing and so cause damage to nearby structures and/or collapse of the crane. The crane must be stored in such a way that disables it to free slew in high winds.

There are various kinds of cranes including aerial, terrain, truck-mounted, mobile, crawler, floating and luffing cranes, among others. Cranes can cause bodily injuries, fatalities, as well as property damage. So a general safe system of their usage is critical. All tower cranes should be fitted with an automatic safe load indicator. All brakes on the tower crane must be fail-safe and checked periodically as per manufacturer’s instructions. If there is a power loss the brake must be automatically applied for safety. The cabin where the operator sits should be designed to protect them and the lifting machinery should be constructed so it’s easy to use. Means of access to and from the cabin should be easy with guardrails in place. There must be jib stops to prevent the arm of the crane being pulled down over the tower. The installation of the electrical provision for the tower crane should meet the electrically regulations for fixed installations. Tower cranes should have built in devices that prevent damage to the operator(s) and the crane should there be a human error. The condition of the slew drive motors and gearboxes must not have deteriorated so that the crane is prevented from slewing freely. There must be a system in place to warn the operator as to whether the jib is in the correct out of service radius and the slew brake status. The buildings under constructions and other cranes should be checked periodically so that the tower crane is not prevented from free slewing.

The legal responsibilities for the operation of storage cranes include the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

 

Sources   hse   wikipedia    liebherr   labour.gov

 

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Managing Display Screen Equipment for your comfort

Computer laptops, touch screens, computer workstations and other display devices are all part of what is known as Display Screen Equipment (DSE). DSE was formerly known as VDU’s i.e Visual Display Units. Working with this kind of equipment can be associated with eyestrain, arm pain, shoulder pain and fatigue. Basically, these aches and pains are concentrated in the upper limb area. As DSE is practically used everywhere, the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 is there to protect workers. The employer must take appropriate steps to ensure workstations are operated according to these regulations. The employer must manage the work so that the employee takes periodic breaks from the workstation and changes in activity so to reduce looking at the screen. There should be training in the use of the workstation and eyesight tests offered. When starting or organization a new work station, a risk assessment should be make by a health and safety officer or in-house competent person. Hazards must be identified regarding the equipment used, the software used, the workstation furniture and access areas and lighting.

If work stations are set up properly DSE related aches and pains cease to be a real problem. Areas to be managed include the display screen, the keyboard, the desk or work area, the chair, lighting, glare, noise, heat, radiation and humidity. The worker must be able to adjust the display screen for his or her comfort. It must swivel and tilt easily. The brightness and contrast of the characters on the screen must be easily adjustable. The keyboard should be positioned in such a way that it supports the hands and arms. The work surface should be sufficiently large and have a low reflective surface. The work surface should be large enough to arrange the screen, keyboard and documents in a comfortable position for the worker. The work chair should have a tiltable back support and have an adjustable height. Postural problems may be overcome by simply adjusting one’s chair.

The lighting should be satisfactory and provide an appropriate contrast between the screen and background environment. Reflections and glare on the display screen should be minimized. Glare from windows and other light sources should not reflect onto the work screen.  Equipment in the workspace should not generate excessive heat or emit excessive noise. If the user experiences visual difficulties which may reasonably be considered to be caused by work on display screen equipment, the employer should ensure the employee is offered appropriate eye sight tests. Anti-glare screens should be provided on DSE, these can greatly reduce glare. Fatigue and stress may be alleviated by proper training in the use of software. The user should have adequate control over their work role so that they do not get overly stressed. Looking at a computer screen for too long is unproductive, and rarely enhances work to be completed to tight deadlines. Natural breaks or pauses must occur if the work is to be completed without undue anxiety to the worker.

Display Screen Equipment – DSE

 

Sources     hse     osha

 

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Working Safely with Lead

Lead is a soft malleable metal. In its original state is has a bluish-white color, however, when exposed to air it tarnishes to a dull grey color. Lead is used in the construction industry, also in batteries, pewters and solders. It can also be used as a radiation shield. Precautions must be taken when working with lead as it is toxic. It can endanger animals and humans if ingested. It can attack the nervous system and cause brain disorders. High temperature lead work (500+ degrees celcius), spraying of lead paint and abrasion can all contribute to exposing the worker the fumes and dust.

Lead can get into the body in different ways. Lead that is processed or worked on can produce dust and fumes. It can be breathed in directly from the air or swallowed, if handling lead products and not washing one’s hands. Lead, apart from alkyls and lead naphthenate,  is not absorbed through the skin. Small amounts of lead are naturally released from the body through bowel movements, however if there is an excessive amount of lead in the blood it can cause complications. These include headaches, kidney damage, nerve and brain damage, nausea and infertility.

If one is working in an environment where there is exposure to lead, precautions and protective measures must be set in place to protect employees. It should first be assessed by the employer whether one’s health is at risk. Controls such as fume and dust extraction systems should be set in place within the work area. The occupational exposure limit for lead in the work area is 50 µg/dl for general employees. Lead levels in expectant women should be at a very low level, as this can affect the unborn fetus. The occupational exposure limit for lead in the work area where there is expectant mothers is 25 µg/dl.  The air should frequently be monitored for lead levels. Washing facilities and eating areas must be placed so they are free from lead contamination. There must be separate showering and changing facilities from the main work areas. The employer should train the operatives on the correct use of equipment and on the wearing of personal protective equipment. Respiratory breathing equipment may need to be used in areas where there is significan exposure and employees’ blood tested periodically for lead levels. If the lead level in the blood of an employee becomes too high, the control measures must be reviewed to see what is not working to protect the employee. New training may have to be carried out and health care professionals consulted.

The law safeguards employees under the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002. These regulations apply to any type of work activity ie handling, processing, repairing, etc. There is a duty on the employer to control the amount of lead that employees are exposed to. Part of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 stipulates that a high standard of personal hygiene in working areas can limit the amount of lead absorption. Employees must consult safety representatives under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.

Sources    hse    wikipedia

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Hazards in Quarrying

Working in a quarry is one of the most dangerous industries to work in. It has a higher fatality and incident rate than the construction and manufacturing industries. Accidents and fatalities in quarries are due to maintenance work, the use of vehicles, fixed machinery and falls from height. Many incidents occur during the cleaning and adjustment of machinery while it is running or during an unexpected start up of equipment while it is being worked on. Occupational diseases and accidents can occur as a result of large moving vehicles, dusty atmospheres and the use of explosives. Noise and vibrations and hazardous materials may pose many hazards for workers on site. There is also the social drawback; many workers may have to do shift work and work under time pressures which may escalate the risk of hazards.

Legislations which apply to working in quarries include The Quarries Regulations 1999. This is to protect the health and safety of workers at a quarry and includes the self employed and passers-by or those living near a quarry that may be susceptible to hazards. There are many other regulations that apply to quarry work; these include The Work at Height Regulations 2005, Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, among others.

One of the main risks when working in a quarry involve the faces. A ‘quarry face’ is a slope in the quarry where the mineral is being excavated or it may be still un-extracted. Risks may come from falling lose rocks, materials and vehicles driving over the edges of the faces. Risks involving vehicles may be the result of driver misjudgment and faulty machines and may result in crashing into other vehicles and incorrect reversing. Much machinery related accidents in quarries can occur as a result of workers being trapped or entangled in machinery. Falling objects such as rocks is another common form of injury in quarries. Pollution nose, which may include that coming from stone crushers, explosions and heavy vehicles, is another common occupational hazard experienced at quarries. Workers may also experience distress from hand held vibrating machines and whole body vibrations from some fixed plant machinery. Dust will be present at all times because of the milling, cutting and crushing of stones.

Quarries need to be regularly inspected. An inspection may be visual or may involve testing or dismantling. The extent of the inspection scheme depends on the work activities, the nature of the materials, weather conditions, tips and quarry faces. Faces should be inspected so that they do not have lose rock or ground that may pose a risk to workers. They may have to be inspected at the beginning of every shift. The inspection scheme should include safety devices such as reversing aids, electrical equipment, pedestrian routes, evacuations and tips, pressure systems and any barriers around the quarry. Defects should be noted. Records should be kept on all inspections and the work that was done to mitigate against and control the risks.

Sources   osha   hse

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Tree Hazards in Arboriculture

There is nothing like a walk through trees in a woodland or garden to invigorate the senses.  People feel better around one of nature’s greatest creations. However, managing trees is a particularly hazardous profession. It has been reported by the HSE, that, during the last 9 years, 26 arborists have been killed during tree work and nearly 1,400 have suffered an injury. The main cause of accidents involve chainsaws, falling trees and falls from heights. An Arborist or “Tree surgeon” (a less formal term) is a professional who specializes in the cultivation, study and management of trees, shrubs and vines. They don’t usually manage forests and their work is different from a forester or logger (although there are some similarities). Arborists generally focus on the health and safety of plants and trees. The work of all arborists is not the same, some don’t climb trees, they just provide consultancy or office support work. Others plant, transplant, prune, provide structural support and aid in preventing or diagnosing and treating diseases in trees. As many arborists climb trees, experience of working safely around trees is essential. Tree surgery involves working at heights, with dangerous machines and ropes. Tree surgeons need to undergo thorough training and gain recognized qualifications before they can work as an arboriculturist. The HSE gives guidance on legal obligations and how to avoid accidents in this business.

Tree work involves many high risk activities and accidents which occur usually involve working at height, working with chainsaws, working on the ground, lone working and aerial tree work. Employers have a legal duty to ensure their employees (and those self-employed) working for them are full trained. They also have a duty to make the working area safe so there is no danger to the client or the public. According to the HSE, 16% of all tree related accidents involve falls from heights. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 place a responsibility on employers to ensure work at height is properly planned and organized and a risk assessment has been carried out. There should be planning for emergencies and rescue. The work should always be done by competent people and the equipment used should be regularly inspected and maintained. If it is not necessary to work at height, one should use extending equipment from the ground. Access equipment and ropes should be used to prevent falls. There should be, if practically possible, fall protection systems in place to provide some protection from falls. All workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Working on the ground can be just as hazardous, especially if a chainsaw is continually used. Chainsaw PPE includes mesh eye protection, special boots, hardhat, hearing protection, high-vis, gloves and leg protection. Before starting work, there must be a clear communication system between the chainsaw operators, other operators and the machine operators. An emergency stop signal must be understood and obeyed by everyone. By law, chainsaw operators must have received adequate training relevant to the work they undertake. There must be the ability to work safely on steep or dangerous ground. Ground conditions can change drastically with the weather. Changes in environmental conditions must be taken into account and the work plan modified if necessary. Another hazardous area is aerial tree work. This includes climbing trees, passing up tools and equipment, working with ropes and extending equipment from the ground. Guidance areas for aerial work include planning the job with the climber and being aware of the tasks involved, watching climbers and anticipating their needs, controlling working ropes and keeping preventing access from the public.

 

Sources      wikipedia     woodland trust    tree surgery    forestry.gov    hse

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Controlling the Risk from Exposure of Legionnaires’ Disease in the Workplace

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. This bacterium causes an acute infectious respiratory process which can potentially be fatal for some. Sometimes a lesser non-fatal infection can occur called Pontiac fever or Lochgoilhead fever that resemble acute influenza. Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. Legionella pneumophila  is normally found in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but in low numbers. However, the bacterium can also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot water systems and whirlpool spas used in domestic and commercial premises. The bacterium doesn’t live very well below 20°C and will not survive above 60°C. In addition, these organisms favour nutrients (that may be found in non-maintained water systems) e.g. presence of sludge, scale or fouling.  Stored and/or re-circulated water and aerosols created by a cooling tower may also favour its’ growth. The risk of legionellosis arises when the bacterium grows in increasing amounts in domestic and commercial contained water systems. Anybody can catch legionnaires’ disease, simply by inhaling small droplets of water which may be suspended in the air which can be spread through humidifiers, water misting systems, high pressure water cleaning machines and, by contact with soil contaminated with the bacteria. As well as affecting the general public, it can also affect workers, especially maintenance technicians of air-conditioning or water supply systems. Work professionals affected can also include those that might be involved in using suspended water systems,  such as vehicle washers, healthcare workers, dental workers, workers in industrial wastewater treatment plants, among others. The bacterium is not known to be transmitted person to person.

During infection, the bacterium invades lung epithelial cells and replicates intracellularly. Some people can be infected and show only mild or no symptoms at all. Others develop flu – like systems which include high temperature, changes in temperature, coughs, muscle pains and headache. In severe cases there may be pneumonia which can be fatal. Everybody is susceptible to infection, however the elderly, heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, those with an impaired immune system and those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases are particularly at risk. Treatment includes antibiotics such as levofloxacin and azithromycin.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 concern the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria in the workplace. Employers are responsible under these acts and other regulations to maintain a safe working environment for workers. Specifically, the COSHH Regulations provide a way of controlling  the risk from a range of hazardous substances including biological agents. Employers who have cooling towers and evaporative condensers on their premises are required, under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992, to notify their local authority.

 

  • If, after carrying out a risk assessment in the workplace, there is reasonably foreseeable risk, the water systems or parts of them need to be avoided where it is practicable. If working with the water systems cannot be avoided, then there should be a written provision for controlling the risk from exposure, which, should be properly managed. This plan should have a remedial action plan in the event that the scheme is not effective. The plan should also contain instructions for the safe working of the water systems.
  • A system would be set in place where there is reduced exposure to water droplets, avoidance of water temperatures that favour the growth of the bacterium, avoidance of water stagnation and of materials that might inadvertently provide nutrients to the bacteriums’ growth. There should also be use of safe water treatment techniques and safe working of the water system.
  • Risk of exposure may be reduced by using a dry cooling plant, and risks reduced by  changes to engineering protocols and cleaning protocols.
  • The plan should include details on the physical treatment program, for example, the use of temperature to control the system and on the chemical treatment programme. Also, the health and safety information for storage, handling, use and disposal of chemicals, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, information on shutdown procedures and operating cycles needs to be included.
  • Routine testing of water quality and bacterial numbers should be part of the scheme.
  • Records should be kept of any accidents, results and exposures.

 

Sources   wikipedia    hse   osha

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Mitigating against Explosive Dust Cloud Atmospheres in the Food Manufacturing Industry

Every year in the UK there are between 15 and 20 dust explosions which occur in the food, beverage and animal feed industry. Powdered food products such as flour, cake mix powder, dried milk, sugar, coffee, tea, starch, powdered potato, soya beans, maize, barley, grain and many more can explode if they form a dust cloud at certain concentrations. Dust explosions arise from solid particulates that become suspended in air, together with an adequate source of ignition. These particulates can be quite harmless as they occur naturally, but when reduced to fine powders through grinding, sanding or milling, they can become highly explosive. The finer the particles, the greater the surface area per unit of mass and the more explosive the dust is likely to be. The moisture content of the dust also affects the explosive risk. Dry dusts of very small particle size are easily ignited and can cause the most violent explosions. There are many processes used in the food industry that can produce explosible dust, these include milling, grinding, spraying, drying, conveyance and storage of finely ground food stuffs. Ignition sources include electrostatic discharges, friction, mechanical and electrical sparks, spontaneous heading and welding. Even an electrical spark that may occur when pulling a plug out of a socket can cause an explosion.

Legislation concerned with dust explosions in the UK include the 1992 Management of Health and Safety at Work Act, the 1974 Health and Safety Act, the 1961 Factories Act and DSEAR (the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002).

Safety measures from food dust cloud explosions

  • An explosible dust cloud should never be allowed to occur
  • To prevent combustion, oxygen in the air should be depleted or kept to a minimum for working levels
  • Ignition sources should be removed where possible, electrical installations and sockets should be protected to be explosion proof. Electrical equipment which is dust protected to IP5X or IP6X should be installed. Surface temperatures should be no higher than 200 degrees celcius
  • Cleaning of equipment should be done regularily so there is no thick dust layers forming that could cause an explosion risk
  • There should be a permit system to control hot work areas
  • Any leakage points around powder handling systems should be sealed to prevent dust escape and accumulation into surrounding plant items
  • There should be a centralised pipe vacuum cleaning system
  • Silos or bins should be fitted with an explosion relief system and vented to an unoccupied place of safety.  Explosion relief panels need to be ATEX certified

Explosions due to dust fires can have very serious consequences on human life and buildings. When maintaining and designing premises priority should be given to venting, explosion suppression, sprinkler systems and plant design. All powdered food processing plants need to carry out assessments on the risks and hazards in the production, handling and storage methods of powdered food stuffs. Laboratory test data results are generally essential in order to mitigate against risks. These tests can establish at what concentration there may be ignition and then precautions can established to prevent this.

Sources   chilworth   osha   iosh  manufacturing.net   hse