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Case Studies » Icon Polymer Group Limited

The challenge

Icon Polymer Limited develop and manufacture an extensive range of composite products at their site in Retford, Nottinghamshire. An independent survey of operations associated with this site was undertaken at the request of senior management.

Facilities at the Retford plant include a number of separate buildings involved in manufacture of polymer and composite products to suit an extensive client base. Hazardous materials in common use include Toluene and other flammable liquids and several areas across site were identified for DSEAR assessment. This included bulk Toluene storage and associated transfer pipework which travelled through production areas.

The solution provided

Based upon solvent volume information supplied by client then Toluene presented the most significant usage on site due to the high volumes involved. Other substances such as MEK, Acetone and Vapasol would typically be used and were included as key components in the assessment undertaken.

As identified to the business fires or explosion hazards arise when flammable vapour is released into areas where there is an ignition source - for example dispensing materials close to unprotected electrics. Solvents such as MEK can even be ignited by a low energy static discharge where vapour is within the flammable explosive range. It is well above its flashpoint at normal ambient temperatures and it’s vapour is heavier than air.

It was determined that risks from standard processing were largely offset by open areas and general ventilation across plant areas with flammable liquids stored appropriately at the time of the survey. However it was found that some flammable solvent handling or dispensing operations may involve open containers so that vapour releases may form a local explosive mixture in air - and ignition could not be ruled out entirely.

Following the extensive review undertaken the business was provided with a detailed action plan for improvements required and advice on where hazardous zoning needed to be introduced.