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Case Studies » Aston Labs

The challenge

A visit was made to the Aston Labs Ltd facility in Holford on the 19th February 2014 to consider compliance with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

From the survey it was evident that there were some controls missing to deal with flammable vapours. Clearly most flammable substances are generally contained inside sealed containers and the risks will be less because of this; however it is possible the operations may generate a flammable atmosphere under certain conditions.

To ensure the risks are adequately controlled a risk assessment was undertaken to identify areas where the Dangerous Goods and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) may apply. This report documents findings from the survey and appropriate control measures to minimise the risk of an incident.

The solution provided

The survey looked at the key DSEAR risk areas across the site and each operation was considered in respect of process risk and potential hazards. The scope of the report provided to the client covered both operational and storage issues for the site.

Segregation of flammable material from potential ignition sources in / around the operations is fundamental to effective control of hazardous substances. A risk-based approach was adopted to assist in evaluation of hazardous zone classification in line with DSEAR principles and industry practice – while erring on the side of safety to ensure DSEAR risks are controlled fully.

Based upon client feedback and observations made there were some risks albeit low; surrounding storage and decanting operations that could allow significant levels of flammable vapour to build up occasionally. A key focus was to ensure a reasonable level of ventilation was provided as required by DSEAR.

Substances such as Acetone and Ethanol generate vapours which are heavier than air and rely upon good ventilation controls to avoid flammable or explosive mixtures being formed at low level. Where flammable components may produce vapour, worst case scenario approach is applied and individual properties such as flammable limits, flashpoint and / or ignition hazard are considered.

Improving ventilation should be a key control to maintain a safe environment for any such work environment.

Overall it was seen that process operations were well-stewarded with training delivered and purpose-designed equipment subject to periodic review.

From the survey it was clear that the site operations were deemed to present limited risks in respect of DSEAR.

All relevant site issues were considered and a detailed DSEAR report, hazardous zoning plan and series of recommendations was issued to management to ensure sufficient control of DSEAR risks is maintained.