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

Asthma can occur in certain individuals at work if they are exposed to respiratory sensitisers. Respiratory sensitisers, also known as asthmagens, are substances that cause occupational asthma. These substances include chemicals (isocyanates), wood dust, flour and grain dust, soldering fumes (colophony), dust from latex rubber and dust from animals and insects. Including these, there are over 200 respiratory sensitisers that cause asthma in the workplace. Occupational asthma can result in a very serious health problem if not tackled head on. Not everybody who becomes sensitized develops asthma. However, the lungs may become hypersensitized, which may trigger an asthma attack later on, even at low exposures of the asthmagen. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, painful coughing and chest tightness. Associated symptoms include runny nose and sore and itchy eyes. There may also be ‘work aggravated asthma’, this is where the worker has a pre-existing condition and the work environment is now triggering acute asthmatic symptoms.

The occupations where the highest incidents of asthma are present include bakers and vehicle paint sprayers. Other job occupations with asthmagen risk include that of the solderer, healthcare worker, agricultural worker, engineering worker, woodworker and laboratory animal worker. The most common causes of occupational asthma continue to be isocyanates and flour/grain. Because the range of industries that use these substances is quite broad, it is difficult to estimate the total number of workers at risk. And not all workers in these industries will be exposed. However, as a general rule, employers have a responsibility to prevent or control the exposure of workers to hazardous substances in the workplace, and all work places that use asthmagens are included. The regulations include the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). A COSHH assessment must be carried out in these workplaces to control risk. There are various steps that can be followed to prevent occupational asthma. If one is diagnosed with asthma, they should avoid exposure or reduce working with the offending substance. It may be possible to get the respiratory sensitisers removed within the workplace and replaced with a safer alternative. If these approaches are not practical, then respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should be used. All workers in these environments should be given information on how to recognize early signs of occupational asthma and regular medical checkups should be carried out.

Using RPE at work may be the best approach to preventing ill-health. Work activities such as using volatile solvents, cutting wood, handling a dusty powder, welding, soldering will require RPE. Also working in confined spaces where oxygen levels are low will require this extra protection. However, respirators must not be used in oxygen deficient atmospheres, but where oxygen levels are low. A suitable breathing apparatus should be used for the former. The RPE must not restrict the worker from carrying out their task and it must be suitable for the job. Another solution when working with dust and fumes is to try and clean the air. Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) is a ventilation system that takes dust, mists, gases or fumes out of the air so they cannot be breathed in. Properly designed LEV may help with adhering with COSHH. However, the LEV must be installed properly, fully maintained and checked that it is indeed cleaning the air.


Sources     hse

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

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


Falls from height remains one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths, with 26 per cent of all fatal construction accidents resulting from a fall from height during 2010/11. One of the main regulations that apply to those working at height includes the Work at Height Regulations 2005. These regulations apply to all who work at height where there is a risk that a fall could cause an injury. These regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed and any persons who control the work of others which involves working at height. Those working at height must be trained and supervised by a competent person. Employers/duty-holders must avoid working at height where they can, and, if they cannot avoid working at height, suitable work equipment must be in place to prevent falls. If there is a risk of a fall, measures must also be put in place to minimize the distance of the fall and the consequences of the fall.

Employees and self-employed must report any hazards and use the equipment provided that they have been trained and experienced in how to use. The duty holder’s responsibilities include making sure that all work at height is properly planned and organized. The weather conditions must be taken into account and the place where the work is done must be safe. Those working at height must be properly trained and competent to carry out the tasks. The  equipment must also be regularly inspected. Risks from fragile surfaces and falling objects must be properly controlled.

Safe use of ladders
A third of all falls from height are from ladders or stepladders. It is therefore imperative to use them correctly.

  • They should only be used for “light work”, not lifting of heavy loads up and down a ladder
  • For safety, there must be 3 points of contact (hands and feet) when working on the ladder
  • If a handhold cannot be maintained, a risk assessment will have to justify whether it is safe or not to use the ladder
  • One should have a tool belt and one hand free to grip the ladder when carrying items up and down the ladder
  • Ladders must not be overloaded
  • where step ladders are used, one should stand on them facing the work activity, not sideways
  • Ladders need to be placed on dry, firm level ground. Avoid shiny surfaces
  • They should not be placed near hazards like windows, doors, where pedestrians can walk under them or where there are moving vehicles
  • Ladders should not be used within 6 m horizontally of any overhead power lines

As well as the Work at Height Regulation 2005, other regulations that are applicable to those working at height include the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007,  the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.
sources   hse   wahsa   ucatt


The reporting of injuries according to the RIDDOR system helps authorities become aware of events, and, helps them decide whether to investigate serious incidents. The HSE does lead on employee health and safety, however, there are other regulatory and enforcing authorities involved in the health and social care system. These include the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC). These governing bodies may do deeper and more all rounded investigations, outside of whtat the HSE is responsible for, and they will have more specific legislation. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 always applies, even if the incident isn’t reportable under RIDDOR.

The reporting of incidents at work should be done by a “responsible person”, this may be an employer or manager. In the case where there are temporary or agency workers, it is the duty of the employment agency to report the incidents. The employment agency should ensure that the hosting company and workers understand how the reporting of accidents will be handled. If injuries, dangerous occurrences, diseases or fatalities are not reported it is a criminal offence. There are varying timescales for reporting incidences according to RIDDOR. Diseases as a result of work should be reported as soon as the GP has has made the diagnosis. Documents of the reports must be available for health care advisors. There may be other reporting situations that are separate from the legal duties of RIDDOR. These are administered by other regulatory bodies. These regulators may need to share information so that people are not put at risk.

Injuries to Health and Social Care workers that need to be reported

  • Fractures (other than fingers and toes) and amputations
  • Injuries causing permanent loss or reduction in sight
  • Damage to the brain or internal organs due to crush injuries
  • Any loss of consciousness caused by head injury
  • Any scalping that requires hospital treatment
  • Any injury working in an enclosed space
  • Injuries from sharps that contain blood borne viruses
  • Accidents to employees must also be reported where there is time off work as a result

There are reportable diseases under RIDDOR. The infection must have been definitely acquired at work. Infections that are easily contactable in the community are not reportable. Reportable diseases at work include carpel tunnel syndrome, dermatitis, severe cramps of legs and arms, hand-arm vibration syndrome, occupational cancer and asthma, and, any disease attributed to the exposure of a biological agent at work.

There are certain incidents reportable even if the person is not at work. These are situations where incidents occur as a result of an accident out of or in connection with work. This applies to employees and patients. An example of a reportable incident involving a patient could be where they receive a burn in the bath and are subsequently hospitalized. Clearly the patient was vulnerable in this situation, and preventative measures were not take. Another example could be of where a service user falls out of bed where there should have been bed rails in place. There are also certain dangerous occurrences or “near misses” in health and social care that can occur. These include the failure of load bearing lifts to work properly, the accidental release of any substance that might cause injury or harm to health, an electrical short circuit that could cause fire or bursting of any pipe work pressure system.

Following the general guidance of health and safety law, adhering to the RIDDOR system, being aware of governing bodies and administering the job role according to training and expertise should be enough to mitigate against dangerous occurrences.

Sources    hse


RIDDOR Changes – October 2013
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) are changing on 1st October 2013. The changes are to be implemented from 1st October 2013 however they remain subject to Parliamentary approval.

RIDDOR Changes – April 2012
RIDDOR changes began last year when from the 6th April 2012, the over-three-day reporting requirement for people injured at work changed to more than seven days. A business has to report injuries that lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (not counting the day of the accident but including weekends and rest days). Incapacitation means that the worker is absent, or is unable to do work that they would reasonably be expected to do as part of their normal work. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.

In addition the business must keep a record of the accident if the worker has been incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. Under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979 an employer must keep an accident book and that record can be treated as a record for the purposes of RIDDOR.

Background history to the changes
Professor Ragnar E Löfstedt compiled a report in November 2011 titled ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’. It was an independent review of health and safety legislation evaluating whether changes were required. The focus of his review had been on the 200 regulations and the 53 Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) owned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Report Findings on RIDDOR ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’ Chapter 5 section 17-23
RIDDOR was reviewed within the Report ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’ Chapter 5 section 17-23. Some of the findings that lead to Professor Löfstedt calling for a review were:

  • He noted that the HSE had already established that there was a considerable degree of under reporting, estimating that only around half of reportable, non-fatal injuries are reported.
  • He noted that those companies who do report are more likely to be visited by enforcing authorities than those who fail to report.
  • He noted the ‘fee for intervention’ could potentially further deter businesses from reporting which needs to be monitored.
  • He noted that Lord Young in his review of health and safety report ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’ recommended the extension to seven days for the period before an injury or accident needs to be reported.
  • He also conveys in his report a concern amongst employers regarding the ambiguity over what to report.

He concluded that there was no case for radically altering legislation and gave recommendations on changes that would support a more simplified and widely understood approach. Any changes would need to continue to enable businesses to make proportionate decisions about managing workplace risks ultimately reducing incidents and excessive bureaucracy.

Cost of workplace accidents and ill health was also considered in his report. The HSE report The Health and Safety of Great Britain \\ Be part of the solution stated on page 5 that estimates suggest that the cost to UK business alone could be just over £3 billion, whilst the overall cost of workplace accidents and ill health has been estimated to be up to a staggering £20 billion a year (approximately 2% of GDP). Costs both direct and indirect to a business and the HSE could potentially be reduced with any changes.

Professor Löfstedt reviewed the RIDDOR Regulations and one of the recommendations within the report was that RIDDOR Regulations and its associated guidance should be amended by the end of 2013 to provide clarity for businesses on how to comply with the requirements.

What is changing in RIDDOR?
The main changes are to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers is being replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’.
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease is being replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness.
  • Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting.

There are no significant changes to the reporting requirements for:

  • Fatal accidents.
  • Accidents to non-workers (members of the public).
  • Accidents which result in the incapacitation of a worker for more than seven days.

Protectus Consulting can provide support and advice to your business on the investigation and recording of a workplace incident.

We would recommend that the business review the incident investigation and reporting policies/procedures and review any changes in line with RIDDOR changes in October.


Sources    hse

A significant number of accidents occur during aircraft turnaround. “Turnaround” refers to the handling of the aircraft between flights while it on the ground. It involves all aspects of the servicing of the aircraft at the airport. Efficiency, speed and accuracy creates for a successful turnaround where the plane can soon be in the air. Servicing includes cabin cleaning, catering, ramp service, passenger disembarkation and embarkation, baggage/cargo handling, de-icing, fuelling and aircraft maintenance. Some airlines do this themselves, others subcontract a handling agent or even use the services of another airline. If contractors are used the airline must accept their responsibilities for the contractors in making the environment safe for them to work in. There must be cooperation between employees, employers and contractors to ensure a safe working environment and to ensure that everyone’s legal obligations are met. All employers are subject to the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Noise at Work Regulations 1989, Work at Height Regulations 2005 and other regulations.

In the UK the aviation industry nearly supports one million jobs and it has been reported by the HSE that during 2010/11 there were 78 major injuries and 815 incidents during turnaround and maintaining aircraft. Minimizing turnaround time can be cost effective but incurs more risk as things have to be done quicker. This may make employees more susceptible to injury. A proper risk assessment during this time is essential. Measures should be put in place to control the risks to workers. If differing workers are used to service different parts of the aircraft, each employer and contractor must assess the risks their activities pose to others. Health and safety requirements should be included in the bye-laws or licence conditions. Aerodrome operators should have frequent audit checks on the safety of the equipment and practices used during turnaround. Airlines could join together for health and safety benchmarking.

Possible hazards to health and safety during turnaround

  • Manual handling – this includes handling of all luggage, cargo and catering trollies
  • Falls from heights – this includes falls from conveyor belt vehicles, aircraft holds and maintenance platforms. Virtually all maintenance on an aircraft turnaround has to be done at height. So access equipment needs to be lightweight and flexible to reach all parts of the aircraft
  • Moving vehicles – vehicles driving close to and around the aircraft may cause a crash
  • Fire and explosion – during refueling of aircraft
  • Hazardous substances – injuries can occur during cleaning eg exposure to sanitary waste and bodily fluids, there may also be exposure to aircraft fuels and fumes during fuelling
  • Noise – from aircraft and vehicle engines. One way to mitigate against noise could be to fit acoustic insulation on the exhaust and engine compartment
  • Slips and trips – can occur from badly stowed cables and spillages of fuels



BRITISH AIRWAYS 747 Timelapse DFW Airport

Sources   hse   wikipedia   iosh   hsimagazine

From October 1st, the Scottish government will make it compulsory for carbon monoxide alarms to be fitted when new or replacement boilers, heaters or stoves are fitted. This will be a change to current building regulations. Building firms will be required to put alarms in new builds. An audible alarm is the only way to protect people from this tasteless, odourless and invisible gas that is known as the “silent killer”. It has been reported that in the UK, at least 50 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year and many more are treated in hospital. This “silent killer” can have devastating effects on peoples’ lives every year; it can kill quickly without warning because it is undetectable. Carbon monoxide (CO) can be generated from fires, furnaces, hot water heaters, cooking equipment, generators etc. CO poisons the body by bonding to the hemoglobin and is 250 times stronger than oxygen, that is why it is so potent.

The HSE strongly recommends the use of CO alarms to give people advance warning of CO in the property. However, alarms should not be regarded as a replacement for proper maintenance and safety checkups by a qualified gas engineer. Carbon monoxide alarms are currently not a legal requirement. However, there are regulations that need to be adhered to i.e the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Approved Code of Practice and guidance. This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) relates to regulations in the use of gas systems and appliances in commercial and domestic settings. The code has been approved by the HSE and gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. The code has a legal status and to prevent  prosecution, the relevant sections of the Code must be complied with. The regulations place responsibilities on those working in the gas industry, including those installing, servicing, maintaining and doing regular checks on appliances and fittings.

Indications of carbon monoxide presence

  •         Yellow or orange rather than blue flames (accept fuel effect fires that display this flame)
  •         Soot or yellow brown staining around appliances
  •         Increased condensation on windows
  •         Pilot lights that blow out frequently

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Breathlessness, headaches, nausea, loss of consciousness
  • Pains in chest or stomach
  • Eratic behavior
  • Visual problems

What to do

  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999 and switch off appliance
  • Try to ventilate the area and seek medical assistance

Prevention of CO poisoning

  • All fuel burning including oil and gas appliances must be checked regularily by a trained professional. Flues and chimneys must be in good condition, clean and not blocked.
  • It is best to choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside if possible
  • One should not use a gas oven to heat the home, even for a short time
  • One should try not to use a unvented gas or kerosene space heater, and if necessary, they should be used in a very ventilated area
  • Charcoal grills should never be used in doors, even in a fireplace
  • Battery operated CO alarms or CO alarms with battery backup should be installed in the home
  • A knowledge of the symptoms of CO poisoning should be familiar to all. Symptom severity is related on the amount of CO in the air and the length of exposure


Sources    bbc   hse   itv   epa

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   hse